Three teenagers have been arrested in connection to a massive house fire in Denver that left a Senegalese family, including two young children, dead last summer.
Two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old were taken into custody on Wednesday on first-degree murder, burglary, assault and arson charges, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said.
The teenagers are accused of targeting the Diol family’s home in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, a relatively new development of closely spaced homes near Denver International Airport, in the early hours of August 5.
Three teenagers have been arrested in connection to a house fire in Denver that killed Senegalese family of five Djibril and Adja Diol, were killed in the blaze along with their 22-month-old daughter Khadija, as well as rekative Hassan Diol and her infant daughter Hawa Baye
Djibril, 29, and Adja Diol, 23, had just recently moved to the US from Senegal when the fire tore through their home
The burned home of the Diol family is still fenced and stands burned with old bouquets, stuffed animals and other remembrances hanging on the fence surrounding the house, Wednesday
Surveillance photos showed the three suspects wearing full face masks and hoodies as they approached the home around 3.30am. Investigators said the three fled in a dark-colored sedan after the fire was set.
Djibril, 29, and Adja Diol, 23, were killed in the blaze along with their 22-month-old daughter Khadija, as well as relative Hassan Diol and her infant daughter Hawa Baye.
Three other people managed to escape by jumping from the second floor of the home. They were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Pazen said the evidence does not indicate that the crime was bias-motivated, and police cannot release many additional details about what happened because of the ages of the suspects.
‘While we are saddened, we are also thankful that those who allegedly committed this crime were brought to justice and placed in custody,’ he said in a press conference.
Shortly after the fire, a $50,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the arrests of those responsible for the deadly fire, including $10,000 from the Colorado chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The images of three masked suspects and a possible getaway vehicle are seen in photos taken from surveillance footage and issued in a ‘Crime Alert’ bulletin by Denver police
In this August 5, 2020, file photo, people look at a house where five people were found dead after a fire, in suburban Denver
A $50,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the arrests of those responsible for the deadly fire,
The group had called on police to consider the possibility of a hate crime.
‘It’s been a rough year, not just for us but for all of us because of the pandemic. But on top of that, having to deal with the loss of beautiful people like these,’ said Papa Dia, a family spokesman who also is a Senegalese immigrant.
‘We are grateful, but we are still in pain. Arrest has been made, but we know it´s not going to bring these beautiful people back.’
Police, fire officials and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are still investigating because there are indications that the fire was arson.
Authorities have not elaborated on the evidence because they say they do not want to compromise the investigation.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Wednesday he had spoken to Senegal Consul General Elhadji Ndao about the arrests.
Hancock described the fire as ‘one of the most heinous crimes I’ve ever seen or witnessed in our city, as mayor or otherwise. … It hit me to the core.’
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (pictured at a news conference Wednesday) described the fire as ‘one of the most heinous crimes’ he’s ever seen