Update 1/23/2017: This article has been updated to reflect new information obtained from the Berkeley Fire Department and PG&E.
Update 1/24/2017: This article has been updated to reflect new information obtained from Berkeley Police Department.
Berkeley Police Department is investigating the suspicious death of two victims at an apartment complex in South Berkeley on Monday, according to BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White.
The two individuals have since been identified as Roger and Valerie Morash, 35 and 32 years old, respectively, according to White. White said BPD detectives released the names of the couple about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
White said the bodies were discovered about 12:59 p.m. Monday at a unit located in a complex at 3028 Deakin St. According to Deputy Fire Chief David Brannigan, the Berkeley Fire Department received a call about 12:58 p.m. notifying it of an unconscious person in the apartment. BFD responded to the scene first and found that the two individuals were already deceased. BFD also found two dead cats inside the unit.
“We knew they were dead. We have what’s called obvious signs of death,” Brannigan said. “But we don’t have any way of knowing (how long). That’s up to the coroner.”
The causes of death for the two people and the two cats is not yet known, though officials initially suspected the deaths may have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, according to White.
White said BPD is still waiting for the coroner’s office to finish the autopsy and determine the cause of death. Until then, White said the case is still classified as a “suspicious death.”
“There’s no obvious signs of foul play or what caused them to die,” White said. “We’ve ruled out any chance of contaminants or hazardous materials that they may have come into contact with, at least at the residence. I think this is one of those cases where it’s going to come down to what we find out from the coroner’s report.”
According to Brannigan, the discovery of the dead cats raised BFD’s “index of suspicion” regarding the cause of death. BFD sent their Hazardous Materials Response Team to do an assessment of the building.
“Everything we found was negative,” Brannigan said. “Our Hazardous Materials team did not find anything unusual — chemicals or gases.”
Brannigan also said the case is now a BPD investigation because “there’s no obvious reason to (BFD) why (the victims) died.”
BPD released a Nixle alert informing the public of the suspicious circumstance about 4:00 p.m. Monday. The apartment complex has been evacuated “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the alert.
The alert stated that BPD, BFD and PG&E were at the scene investigating whether any hazardous conditions remain. According to PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian, a PG&E gas service representative responded to the incident about 2:20 p.m. Monday at the request of first responders. White said PG&E checked the gas lines and BFD conducted a number of tests, including one for radiation, although all tests came up negative.
Deakin Street has been closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic between Webster and Price streets, the alert said.
Check back for updates.