Authorities in New Orleans arrested and charged a 29-year-old man after he allegedly started a house fire that killed his three children. According to NBC News, the fatal incident occurred on Tuesday, and the suspect, identified as Joseph Washington Sr., was arrested the following day.
The mother of the children is said to have called 911 a few minutes before midnight to report that their father was threatening to set their house on fire. “He’s going crazy,” the mother told the operator in the 911 call released by the Orleans Parish Communications District, ABC News reported. “I’m at work. I’m trying to hurry up and go there right now.”
The mother in the call also pleaded with the police to rush to the home as her ex-husband was screaming and “said he’s about to burn the house.” Police said a report of a fire was made not too long after the 911 call.
The victims were aged 8, 5, and 3. Police said the 8-year-old and 5-year-old succumbed to their injuries at a hospital after they were rescued, adding that the 3-year-old was fatally burned inside the home.
The charges brought against Washington include three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, and one count of aggravated arson. The suspect was ultimately arrested after he scaled an overpass, police said. He was subsequently evaluated for injuries at a hospital, NBC News reported.
Authorities also said the incident stemmed from what appeared to be a domestic dispute, per ABC News. “We are here because of the tragic and senseless, horrific deaths of three young children last night in a domestic violence situation,” New Orleans interim Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said during a Wednesday press briefing.
“Collectively we are outraged, we are disappointed, we are deeply saddened,” Kirkpatrick also said during the briefing. “The person responsible will be held accountable.”