Raytown woman thankful for 2 strangers who saved residents in burning apartment building

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- Shanna Givens and her five-year-old say are thankful to be alive thanks to a pair of strangers who were in the right place at the right time.

"She was a hero to me. She still is. Her and her brother," said Givens, a tenant at the Amber Glenn Apartment Complex where a building caught fire Thursday, displacing 15 people.

Makima Watts and Jason Edwards had just pulled into the complex to find smoke billowing from the top of one of the units.

"Me and my sister were out making runs, and I got a feeling I needed to come home, so I told her to bring me home," Edwards said. "And as we pulled in the parking lot we just noticed a big cloud of smoke."

"We parked the car, rushed out, and ran up to the door," Watts said. "By that time, two people had come out and confirmed it was a fire. We still didn’t hear any alarms so we just ran in the building."

The siblings said they ran through smoke-filled hallways and stairwells to alert residents of the fire. Edwards said they helped at least 10 people out of their rooms and into the parking lot as fire crews made their way onto the scene.

Jason Edwards

"The highest level we got to was the second because since it started on the second floor all the smoke was rising to the third and it was uneasy to get in," Edwards said. "When we couldn’t get to the third floor inside, we went outside and just yelled and yelled at everybody, throwing rocks or whatever we could to get everybody’s attention and tell them to get out."

Givens and her son were stuck on the patio of their third-floor unit, left with just one thing to do.

Makima Watts

"I spidered down. She was right over here, and she caught my baby right there. My son was a very brave five-year-old. He never cried or any of that." Givens said, "I don’t know where I got the courage to jump from the third floor. And to toss your five-year-old over the balcony is never -- you can never plan for stuff like that."

Givens' son landed safely in the arms of Watts who was waiting below to take him to safety.

"I caught a kid off of a three-story balcony, man, and he’s OK. I’m glad all of those kids are alright," Watts said.

Shanna Givens

That's a joy Givens shares. She said she was reminded that good things can come from bad situations.

"Total stranger, who doesn’t even live here," Givens said. "People say a lot of stuff about the city and things like that, but I’ll tell you there some good people mixed amongst because you don’t catch people running in burning buildings to save kids, screaming and trying to help everybody. You don’t find that a lot. I was very grateful and I still am."

Raytown Police have ruled the fire was caused by arson. They are still investigating the incident and are asking anyone with information to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.