On Tuesday, Aug. 17, Denver police released images of masked suspects thought to be responsible for igniting a house fire that killed a Senegalese family earlier this month.
Five Senegalese immigrants were killed in a house fire on Aug. 5 that sent shock waves through Denver’s Senegalese community. Djibril Diol, 29, and Adja Diol, 23, perished alongside 3-year-old daughter, Khadija. Djibril Diol’s sister, Hassan, 25, and her infant daughter, Hawa Baye, were also killed. Three people were able to escape by jumping out of the second story of the building.
The three suspects in the newly released photo are wearing white face masks and dark-colored hoodies. They fled the scene in a four-door sedan.
Chief Joe Montoya of the Denver Police Department said detectives determined early on that the house fire was intentionally set.
“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,” Montoya said at an Aug. 7 news conference. “We owe this to that family. We owe this to the Senegalese community, and we owe it to the country of Senegal.”
The Diol family was active in the local Senegalese community in the Denver area.
“We consider ourselves part of this society, part of this great nation we call home,” said Papa Dia, the founder of the African Leadership Group in Denver. “This is a time we don’t want to feel alone. This is a time we want the U.S. born citizens to embrace us.”
He also said that members of the community were living in fear and didn’t know if they were being targeted. Some community members have called for the fire to be investigated as a hate crime although officials said it was too early to determine anyone’s motive for setting the fire.
Djibril Diol emigrated to the United States from Senegal over a decade ago and was described by those who knew him as “a gentle and kind soul,” and “a good person, a good worker, and a good Muslim.” Djibril, a first-generation college student, recently received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Colorado State University.
His wife Adja had just moved from Senegal. “They were just very honest, true neighbors.”
Denver Crime Stoppers is offering an award of $14,000 for anyone who has information about the case.