Buffalo Arsons May be Racially Motivated

June 7, 2012 Updated Jun 7, 2012 at 6:40 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

...
June 7, 2012 Updated Jun 7, 2012 at 6:40 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY
(WKBW)
A house located at 179 Mackinaw Street was fire-bombed not once, but twice.

Investigators believe residents in Buffalo's old first ward neighborhood where the arsons occurred have information that could help lead to an arrest.

A federal grand jury charged 58-year old Michael Fijal of Buffalo in connection to the arsons and he is currently awaiting trial but investigators say he didn't act alone and paid someone to set the fires.

The first attack happened on March 12, 2011 and the second fire was set on May 22, 2011.

The second blaze injured a firefighter and led to the home being demolished.

The owner of the home is a refugee from Africa.

"The elements of the case indicate that this could possibly be a hate crime motivated incident. We want to get to the bottom of it. What we're looking at as far as community response, community safety, we will not tolerate that type of behavior...we don't know if it was actually a motivating factor but if it was we want to make sure that we deal with it appropriately," said Christopher Piehota, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Buffalo division.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Buffalo Division of the FBI at (716) 856-7800 or the ATF at (716) 853-5070.

Information leading to an arrest and conviction will result in up to a $10,000 reward.