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Friday, June 21, 2024

A suicide attempt at an apartment complex caused an explosion that shook the building early Monday morning.

Police and emergency personnel responded to multiple calls of an explosion at Gateway at Glades apartments, 3415 SW 39th Blvd., at about 2:40 a.m.

There was some fire and the smell of gasoline coming from within the apartment after the explosion, said Gainesville Police Department Lt. Mike Schibuola.

The explosion was caused by a suicide attempt by Paul Bhawnani, 57, according to an update given by Angelina Valuri, GPD spokeswoman.

The explosion occurred when the fully-clothed Bhawnani seated himself in the bathtub that was filled with gasoline, Valuri said.

Then he intentionally set himself on fire.

Bhawnani was unconscious and severely burned when Gainesville Fire Rescue pulled him out of his apartment. He was transported to Shands at UF in critical condition.

No other injuries were reported.

Mercedes Camacho, resident of apartment No. 131, said Bhawnani was her next-door neighbor.

Camacho had just gotten back home when she thought she heard what sounded like someone kicking the door.

She said there was “just one big loud bang,” and then the building shook.

“It shifted the sofa from underneath,” Camacho said.

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Clarence ‘CJ’ Cooper, resident of apartment No. 122, said he felt the walls shake as well.

“I thought someone was trying to break in,” Cooper said. “I smelled the fire when I opened my door.”

Jonathan Leary called 911 when he saw the explosion while playing basketball nearby.

He saw a wall blow out, which sounded like a shotgun blast.

Bhawnani’s condition had not changed as of Monday at 1 p.m.

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