Marco Johnson and his girlfriend were asleep in an east-side Detroit home when the neighbor started pounding on the door.
"She kept saying, 'Fire!' " he recalled later.
Nine people were inside of the home on Kenmoor, near the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, at about 6 a.m. Sunday when two men in a dark-colored sedan drove up and threw a Molotov cocktail through the front window, Detroit Police Cmdr. Steve Dolunt said.
He said one person was killed and three people were hospitalized in critical condition.
Police said the firebombing was being investigated by homicide and arson investigators.
Nicole Inman, 25, said her father, Robert Inman, 51, was killed in the firebombing.
She said her mother also was in the home at the time and is being treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital, as is her brother and aunt, both 32.
Nicole Inman said her father was recovering from lung cancer and was about to come live with her.
She said what happened was beginning to sink in, but it was "like a dream."
Johnson said his family has lived in the home for more than 20 years. His girlfriend, Jaquette West, said Johnson's mother and two brothers were treated at a hospital.
West, 29, said she and Johnson were sleeping up the upper level of the home when a neighbor began banging on the house and yelling for people to get out.
"She was beating on the front door," West said. "Like, 'Get up, it's a fire. Get up, get out, it's bad.' "
West and Johnson said that, without coats or shoes on, they made their way to balcony over a back porch until firefighters arrived and they were able to climb down a ladder to safety.
Dolunt said the scene at the home Sunday morning was chaotic, as firefighters and police forced their way into the burning home. Firefighters, he said, carried victims out of the house.
West said Sunday afternoon she was still in shock.
"It still feels like a dream," she said. "It still feels like it isn't real."
Nicole Inman said her parents had been a couple for nearly 30 years.
"He was moving around like he was not sick at all," Nicole Inman said of her father's cancer, adding she last spoke with him on Saturday.
West said Johnson's family are "very good-hearted, loving people."
She and Johnson said they don't now why anyone would try to hurt his family.
"I want to know who did it and what for," he said.
Copyright 2013 - Detroit Free Press
McClatchy-Tribune News Service