DENVER (AP) – A $14,000 reward was offered Friday for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for setting a house fire that killed five people with ties to Senegal.
The victims were members of a family who were “headed in the right direction”, Joe Montoya, division chief of investigations for Denver police, said at a press conference also attended by Senegal Consul General Elhadji Ndao and members of Colorado’s Senegalese community.
“We ask you to look into your heart and do the right thing, do it for the right reasons,” he said.
A crime alert announcing the reward and showing a photo of three of those killed – Djibril and Adja Diol and their daughter, Kadidia – was read aloud in French, the main language in Senegal. It was read by a French-speaking officer who conducted many of the investigatory interviews with immigrants from the West African nation.
Hassan Diol and her infant daughter, Hawa Beye, also were killed in Wednesday’s fire at a home in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, a relatively new development of closely-spaced homes near Denver International Airport.
Three other people managed to escape by jumping from the second floor of the home.
Montoya released few details about the investigation, saying he did not want to release any information that might lead people to destroy evidence. Some Muslim advocacy groups have called on police to consider the possibility of a hate crime but Montoya said detectives are looking at all possible angles.
He said they want to avoid getting “tunnel vision” that would lead them to miss relevant evidence in the investigation, which Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, has said he is monitoring.
A leader in the Senegalese community in the Denver area and spokesperson for the victims’ family, Papa Dia, said it was very important for immigrants to feel support from people who were born in the United States because they “don’t want to feel alone.”
“Helping us solve this crime will help every immigrant living in this great state of Colorado to feel at peace and feel secure,” he said.
Djibril Diol’s youngest brother, Moussa Diol, also made an emotional plea for help solving the crime, speaking softly as another man held his shoulder in support.
“This just hurts a lot, losing all your family at one time,” he said.
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