The police in the United States are looking for someone or some people who are believed to have set a house on fire in Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday, killing five members of a family with ties to the West African country of Senegal. The victims included two young children.
At a news conference on Friday, the Denver police announced a $14,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Senegal’s representative to the United Nations, who attended the press conference, said he was saddened by the loss of lives.
“Beyond the money, what I’m asking for is a heartfelt plea,” Division Police Chief Joe Montoya said. “I want people to look into their hearts … and understand that this was a family that was thriving. They were heading the right direction.”
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The victims included Djibril and Adja Diol, and their 3-year-old daughter Kadidia, and Hassan Diol and her infant daughter, Hawa Beye. Djibril Diol, his wife, daughter, sister and niece were killed in the fire.
Dectives assigned to the case said they still do not have any suspects and don’t know if the crime was bias-related.,
“We don’t want to get tunnel-visioned into a motive,” he said. “There are some cases, on the front end it’s very evident as to that what the motive is for a crime. This is not one of those cases.”
Senegal’s president Macky Sall sent condolences on Thursday. “I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wish speedy recovery to the injured. It is a very serious matter that we are following closely,” President Macky Sall tweeted.
Diol had graduated in 2018 from Colorado State University with a degree in civil engineering, and was working for the Kiewit construction company.
Officials said three other family members were able to flee the house fire early Wednesday by jumping from the second story, and were being treated for injuries that weren’t life-threatening.
Ousman Ba, a member of the Senegalese community, told The Denver Post that Diol and his family were staying with another family at the home until they could get a home of their own.
On Thursday, Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights organization, released a statement urging Denver officials to open a hate crime investigation into the deaths of the Senegalese American Muslim family members.
“Law enforcement authorities must take this suspected murder and arson seriously. Muslims in Colorado may have been threatened by hate-motivated arson before, and hate crimes in the state are on the rise,” the statement said. “We call on law enforcement to immediately investigate whether the deadly fire in Green Valley Ranch [neighborhood] was motivated by hate. The family of those lost and the Muslim community in Denver deserve justice and peace of mind.