$100,000 Reward in Racially Motivated Firebomb Attack

Officials are looking for information about the May arson attack that damaged four apartments and may have been racially motivated

Federal and local officials announced a $100,000 reward Wednesday afternoon for information connected to a May firebomb attack in the Ramona Gardens housing project that damaged four apartments and may have been racially motivated.

Officials also released a surveillance video showing what appears to be eight suspects entering the Boyle Heights complex and lighting four Molotov cocktails.

"Investigators believe there are multiple suspects responsible for this attack," said Tim Delaney, FBI special agent in charge of the investigation.

Investigators said soon after the attack that they were looking into the possibility the attack was racially motivated, but they did not rule out any possibilities, including gang involvement.

No one was injured in the attack.

Four apartments were firebombed just after midnight May 12, and reports quickly circulated that the arsons were racially motivated. Three of the apartments were home to black families, and the fourth - occupied by a Latino family - was between the others.

There are 23 black families who live in the project, which is predominantly Latino, according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reported the complex has 1,791 total residents.

"Certainly the possibility that this attack was racially motivated is among the working theories of the investigators, but until we identify the suspects and further the investigation, it would be premature to confirm that," Delaney said.

Officials from the FBI, LAPD, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, LA City Fire Department and City Councilman Jose Huizar’s office were on hand to announce the multi-agency reward.

"The community itself has had BBQ's and other events to show that they are united and they themselves will not tolerate this," Huizar said.

There are previously documented racial tensions in the housing project, including the 1992 firebombing of two apartments occupied by black families.

The FBI opened an investigation soon after the attack into whether the civil rights of any of the victims were violated. 

"The way a lot of these crimes are solved is one brave individual or individuals will stand up and do the right thing and they'll call," said Carlos Canino of the ATF.

Anyone with information is asked to call 213-484-6700 or email rgtf@lapd.lacity.org

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