DENVER – A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrests of people responsible for setting a house fire in Denver that killed five recent immigrants, including two children, from the West African nation of Senegal.
The Colorado chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Tuesday it was contributing $10,000 to the $40,000 already put forward by Metro Denver Crime Stoppers.
“We hope this reward will encourage those who have valuable information regarding this arson to come forward,” said Krista Cole, acting board chairwoman of CAIR-Colorado, which bills itself as the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the country.
Police have released a surveillance photo showing three suspects wearing full face masks and hoodies. Investigators say the three fled in a dark-colored sedan after the Aug. 5 fire was set in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, a relatively new development of closely spaced homes near Denver International Airport.
Killed were Djibril and Adja Diol, along with their 22-month-old daughter Khadija, as well as relative Hassan Diol and her infant daughter Hawa Baye. Their bodies were discovered after firefighters extinguished the blaze, which was first reported by a police officer at 2:40 a.m.
Three other people managed to escape by jumping from the second floor of the home. They were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police, fire officials and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are 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.
Meanwhile, some Muslim advocacy groups, including CAIR-Colorado, have called on police to consider the possibility of a hate crime.
“Because the family members who perished in this tragedy are members of minority and immigrant communities, it would only be prudent to investigate the possibility of a bias motive,” Cole said the day after the fire.
Authorities have said detectives are looking at all possible angles.
“This is certainly an element of the investigation that we’re actively probing,” Lt. Matt Clark with the Denver Police Department’s Major Crimes Division said in September.