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3 juveniles arrested in Denver arson that killed family of 5, police say

Diol Family
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Posted at 2:02 PM, Jan 27, 2021

DENVER — Three juveniles have been arrested in connection with the August fire that killed a Senegalese family of five in Denver’s Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen announced Wednesday.

The male teenage suspects — two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old, who are not being named due to their age — face a litany of charges, including five counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, and eight counts of first-degree arson, Pazen said. Their names were not being released Wednesday.

Only limited information about the arrests was available Wednesday, but Pazen said the fire did not appear to be a bias-motivated crime, based on the investigation.

On Aug. 5, Djibril and Adja Diol were killed in a house fire along with their 2-year-old daughter, Khadija. Also killed in the fire was Hassan Diol and her infant daughter, Hawa Baye. The fire occurred in the 5300 block of N. Truckee St. in Denver’s Green Valley Ranch neighborhood at approximately 2:30 a.m.

"Today marks the first step in making sure we hold people responsible for this crime," said Mayor Michael Hancock, who joined Pazen in a Wednesday afternoon news conference to update the case.

Pazen declined to give much information about the investigation, saying he wants to "protect the integrity of the case" as detectives continue to investigate.

"We believe the three individuals we have in custody are responsible for the crime," Pazen said.

Authorities had been offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to an arrest

Fire officials said police on Aug. 5 arrived to the home, located at 5312 Truckee Drive, around 2:55 a.m. and made a valiant effort to try to help the people still inside from the "very significant fire."

Officials said the officer who attempted to rescue people from the home was pushed back due to the heat from the fire.

Police in September said they were focusing on three masked individuals who were seen in the area at the time of the fire. During a press briefing on Sept. 9, DPD Major Crimes Lt. Matt Clark released enhanced images of the suspects. Police now believe the suspects were wearing dark-colored face masks. The three individuals fled the area in a dark-colored sedan and have yet to be identified.

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Investigators in August 2020 released pictures of three people wearing full face masks and dark hoodies, and pictures of a dark-colored four-door sedan, that they say are connected to the investigation into a suspected arson that killed five people from a Senegalese family earlier that month.

Friends, family and neighbors of the victims said the family had immigrated from Senegal.

“We are heartbroken," Papa Dia, founder of the African Leadership Group based out of Aurora, said in August. "We cannot believe that an entire family would be just gone in a matter of minutes,” Dia said. “Right now, we have a lot of questions — more than we have answers. So we look forward to having clarification on what transpired, but one thing I can tell you is we need the entire support. And the time we are facing as a community at large, we need to come together, and as immigrants and as Muslims, any support, we welcome it.”

The president of Senegal offered his condolences to the Diol family in Green Valley Ranch, who came from his home country to Colorado.

Macky Sall, the president of the Republic of Senegal, said in a tweet that he wished to “extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”

Abou Djibril said he was the brother of the man who died, and described him as a good person.

“A good worker and like a good Muslim. ... He respects all the people and he helped all the people,” Djibril said.

Denver7 also spoke with attorney David Lane about what might come next in the case and whether the teenagers could be tried as adults.

'Motive is a big part of this': Attorney David Lane discusses Green Valley Ranch arson case