Three children were killed in a house fire in New Orleans early Wednesday morning that was allegedly set by their father following a domestic dispute, police said.
In a press release, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) said that at 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday night police received a phone from a woman who claimed that the father of her three children was threatening to burn their home down.
Just ten minutes later, a fire was reported at the family’s residence.
Police and firefighter were immediately dispatched to the scene and arrived at the home to find it engulfed in flames at 12:20 a.m.
First responders rescued an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, who were transported to the hospital, but were pronounced deceased about an hour later. Police said that a third child, a 3-year-old boy, was also discovered inside the home dead.
Police said that the children’s mother was at work at the time of the fire and not at home.
Authorities said that they immediately began investigating the fire and identified 29-year-old Joseph Washington, Sr. as the children’s father.
Washington Sr. was quickly identified as the “prime suspect” for setting the fire and killing his three children, police said.
Washington Sr. was apprehended by police following a manhunt on Wednesday.
Authorities said that they found the 29-year-old’s vehicle abandoned and partially submerged in the Mississippi River.
Later in the day, police received intelligence that Washington Sr. was in another vehicle on the I-610 Eastbound at the Elysian Fields exit. He was apprehended by police, despite attempting to flee by jumping off the overpass.
Washington Sr. has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and one count of aggravated arson.
The cause of death of the children has not been released by the coroner, police said.
At a press briefing Wednesday, New Orleans interim Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick called the children’s deaths “tragic and senseless.”
“We are here because of the tragic and senseless, horrific deaths of three young children last night in a domestic violence situation,” Kirkpatrick said. “Collectively we are outraged, we are disappointed, we are deeply saddened.”
“The person responsible will be held accountable,” she added.
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