Police in Denver are searching for answers after a family of five perished in a house fire that was set intentionally.
Djibril and Adja Diol and their 3-year-old daughter Kadidia were killed on Wednesday in a blaze that erupted at around 2:30 a.m. in their Denver home, police said in a news release. Hassan Diol, who was Djibril’s sister, and Hassan’s infant daughter Hawa Beye were also killed. Authorities believe the fire was arson and that the person or people who set the fire “fled the area” afterward, according to their release.
Three other people who were also present at the time of the fire were able to escape by jumping from the second story, KMGH reports. After the arrival of police, one officer tried to help the people who were trapped inside but had to retreat due to the heat of the flames, according to the outlet.
Police said during a press conference Friday that they concluded foul play was involved soon after launching the investigation.
“Early on in the investigation we determined that this fire was intentionally set,” Denver Police Department Division Chief Joe Montoya said. “It was then converted into a homicide investigation.”
No arrests have been made in the case thus far and no suspects have been publicly named. Police have also not speculated regarding a possible motive, and have stopped short of theorizing that the family died as a result of a hate crime.
“We have to go into this very open-minded and look at every possible angle and if at some point we determine it was hate-motivated or bias-motivated then we will definitely share it with the community,” Montoya said.
Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering a $14,000 reward for information on the case. During Friday’s conference, Montoya called for any possible witnesses to have empathy for those whose lives were lost.
“Beyond the money, what I’m asking for is a heartfelt plea. I want people to look into their hearts. I want them to see the picture of this family and understand that this was a family that was thriving. They were headed in the right direction,” he said. “[Djibril Diol] was doing all the things he needed to do to provide his family with an amazing life in America, and that was all cut short on that day. So I ask if you have any information on this crime, we ask that you look into your hearts and do the right thing. Do it for the right reasons, because we need to find these individuals or individual and we have to be able to hold them accountable for what they did on that day.”
“We owe this to that family,” he continued. “We owe this to the Senegalese community, and we owe it to the country of Senegal.”
Djibril Diol was a civil engineer and was known as Djiby, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to help raise funds to have the victims’ bodies transported to Senegal.
During Friday’s press conference, Djibril Diol’s younger brother Moussa delivered a heartfelt statement.
“That was my family. My everything,” he said. "It’s hard to really talk right now because [I’m] still heartbroken. … It hurts a lot just to wake up and lose your family like that. Nobody deserves this. Nobody. No family deserves this. I’m gonna miss them a lot. A lot.”
“We just want justice,” he added.
Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, offered his condolences to the family of the victims via Twitter on Thursday and stated that he is watching the case closely. Michael B. Hancock, the mayor of Denver, did the same in a tweet of his own, and stated that officials will “move swiftly” to find answers.
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