Three teenagers have been arrested in connection with a house fire in Denver that finally killed five migrants, including two children, from the West African country of Senegal, police said.
Leader Paul Bazin said the suspects – two young men aged 16 and 15 – are being held for investigation into murder, burglary, assault and arson. Bazin said the evidence does not indicate the motive for the crime was bias, and the police cannot release many additional details about what happened because of the suspects’ ages.
“While we are grieving, we are also grateful to those who are alleged to have committed this crime who have been brought to justice and taken into custody,” he said.
A $ 50,000 reward was provided for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the fire, including $ 10,000 from the Colorado chapter of the Council on American Relations. The group had called on the police to look into the possibility of committing a hate crime.
Shortly after the fire, police released a surveillance photo showing three suspects wearing masks and a hood. Investigators say the three fled in a dark-colored sedan after the fire broke out in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, a relatively new development of closely spaced homes near Denver International Airport.
They killed Gabriel and Aga Deol, along with their 22-month-old daughter Khadija, as well as her cousin Hassan Deol and her infant daughter, Hawa Bay.
Three other people managed to escape by jumping from the second floor of the house. They were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“It has been a difficult year, not only for us but for all of us because of the epidemic.” Papa Dia, a family spokesperson who is also a Senegalese immigrant, said, “Moreover, the loss of beautiful people like these has to be dealt with.” We are grateful, but we are still suffering. From pain. He was arrested, but we know he will not return these beautiful people. “
Police, firefighting officials and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are still investigating because there are indications that the fire was an arson. The authorities have not provided further details about the evidence because they say they do not want to compromise the investigation.
The fire was first reported by a police officer at 2:40 a.m. An officer trying to save people was pushed back by the heat of the fire. It seems that those who died were all on the first floor.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said he had spoken to Senegalese Consul General El Hadj Ndaou about the arrests. Hancock described the fire as “one of the most heinous crimes I’ve ever seen or witnessed in our city, as a mayor or otherwise … it hit me to the core.”