A $100,000 reward was announced Wednesday for information leading to the arrest of whoever threw Molotov cocktails into four apartments at a public housing complex in Boyle Heights in an attack that authorities said was possibly racially motivated.
Apartments occupied for by three African-American families and one Latino family were targeted, federal and local authorities said at a news conference at LAPD headquarters Wednesday.
Surveillance video showing the attackers was released at the news conference, where a $100,000 reward was announced by the Los Angeles police, the FBI, the Fire Department, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the area.
The grainy black-and-white video showed a group of eight people running on a nearby pedestrian freeway overpass and onto the Ramona Gardens property just before the attacks.
Then, several of them moved toward the apartments and tossed bottles of flaming liquid into units, the video showed.
After fiery explosions, the culprits ran back over the 10 Freeway overpass and away from the scene.
“Certainly, the possibility that this attack was racially motivated is among the working theories of the investigators,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Delaney. “But until we identify the suspects and further the investigation, it would be premature to confirm that.”
The motive for the firebombing remained under investigation, authorities said.
Similar firebomb attacks targeted black families at the largely Latino complex in 1992, but African Americans had started to move back in recently, the Los Angeles Times reported last month.
Because of the May 12 attacks, some feel unsafe and were planning to move out, the newspaper reported.
Twenty-three black families were living at Ramona Gardens — among nearly 1,800 total residents — the Times reported.
The Latino family that was targeted by one of the May 12 firebombs lived among apartments where African-American families lived, according to the Times.
“Given that there were three African-American families there, in a largely Latino community, we are concerned that if in fact this is the case, we have to do everything to put these people behind bars,” Huizar said Wednesday.
A reward of up to $100,000 was being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of one or more members of the group responsible, with $75,000 coming from the city of Los Angeles and $25,000 from the FBI and ATF.
Anyone with information was asked to call a tip line at 800-222-8477, text information beginning with the letter TIPLA to 274637 (CRIMES) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.