Three children were killed in a house fire in New Orleans, and now police say the young victims' father has been arrested in connection with their murders after he allegedly intentionally set the fire.
Around 12:10 a.m. on Oct. 18, officials received a call regarding “possible persons trapped” inside a home, according to the New Orleans Fire Department.
Firefighters arrived at the home about five minutes later and launched an “interior attack” while searching for the three children, officials said.
Authorities said they located an unresponsive child near the home's front door and another between the kitchen and entryway. Firefighters tried to resuscitate the pair before EMS arrived. The victims, an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, were transported to a nearby hospital, where they died from their injuries.
A third child was found “near the center of the dwelling,” officials said. That victim, a 3-year-old child, was already dead.
Investigators suspected the children’s father, Joseph Washington, of starting the fire after surveillance footage from a neighbor’s Ring camera showed the fire and a man exiting the home, then getting into a dark vehicle, WVUE reported.
At an Oct. 18 press conference, Deputy Superintendent Ryan Lubrano announced Washington was arrested around 11:40 a.m. and charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of cruelty to a juvenile, and one count of aggravated arson.
Lubrano said Washington’s car was found “partially submerged” in a levee. Washington reportedly jumped off the onramp to the freeway and then ran off, but officers were quickly able to apprehend him.
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Before Washington was taken into custody, his father, Troy McDonnell, told the New Orleans Advocate, “If I catch him, I’m gonna kill him.”
According to authorities, the three victims' mother was at work when the fire broke out.
The suspect and the children’s mother married in 2014, but the couple split up five years later. Washington previously was convicted of domestic violence-related crimes after choking the children’s mother, hitting her, and threatening to kill her in 2018. She later obtained a restraining order against him, the New Orleans Advocate reported.
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