BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The FBI announced that they are requesting the public's assistance in a pending case. More than once during a press conference Thursday morning, members of the Buffalo Fire Department and the FBI used the term "hate crime" as a possible motive for two fires last year, in Buffalo's Old First Ward.
Fire officials believe a blaze last May was started by a fire bomb. The fire was so intense the structure next door was even burned. Fifty-eight-year-old Michael Fijal, of Buffalo, was charged with arson and is awaiting trial. Officials now believe more information is out there leading to several things, possibly one more person and information on whether it was racially motivated.
FBI Special Agent Christopher Piehota said, "The elements of the case indicated that there may be possible 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 we want to make sure we deal with it appropriately."
If you have information for officials, you can call the FBI at 856-7800 or the ATF at 853-5070. The FBI is offering $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
The Buffalo Fire Department is taking the two cases very seriously. One of their own was injured in battling one of the blazing, he has since recovered.
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