Just after midnight on May 12, four different apartment units in the Ramona Gardens housing complex in Boyle Heights were targeted by suspects armed with Molotov cocktails. Security video from a nearby building clearly shows eight people dressed in hoodies and masks entering the property right before the attack and launching the homemade firebombs.
Now, after three months, there appears to be a break in the case. FOX 11 News has obtained a Los Angeles Police Department search warrant that identifies one of the suspects as a known member of the Big Hazard street gang, a Latino gang that has ties to the project. According to the search warrant, the LAPD found DNA evidence on one of the bottles used in the firebombing and linked it to the 29-year-old suspect, currently sitting in jail in Riverside charged in an unrelated attempted robbery. The warrant says the suspect is “either connected to building the Molotov cocktail himself and/or involved in actually throwing the firebombs into the apartments.” The suspect hasn't yet been charged in connection with the Ramona Gardens attack.
Some residents believe the incident was racially-motivated given that the victims were black families that live in the mostly-Latino project. That's a theory the FBI confirms it is investigating. Ramona Gardens has had a history of racial tensions. 22 years ago, there were two other black families targeted by firebombs. LAPD says the most recent attack and the decades-old attack are not related. Police have beefed-up patrols over the years and the City of Los Angeles has worked with community leaders to bring residents of all races together through programs like “Summer Night Lights”. The public-private partnership's goal is to help end gang violence in communities with a history of such violence.
Federal and local officials are offering a $100,000 reward for information lead to arrests and convictions in the firebombing attacks. Anyone with information is urged to call (213) 484.6700.