15-year-old girl arrested for murder in Bronx fire that killed 1
Feb. 5, 2023 Updated Sun., Feb. 5, 2023 at 2:19 p.m.
NEW YORK — A 15-year-old girl has been arrested for murder for allegedly using an accelerant to start a blaze in a Bronx boarding house that killed a stranger.
The girl had a dispute with someone living in the rooming house — but not with the 27-year-old man who ultimately died in the fire after it grew out of control, cops said.
Police sources describe the suspect as a chronic runaway who lives in Canandaigua, a small town near Rochester.
The victim was identified Sunday as Abdoukarim Sakolly. He died at the scene.
The suspect was arrested Saturday in Midtown. She’s charged with murder, assault, arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief for the Jan. 29 blaze. Her name was not released by the New York Police Department because she’s a juvenile.
Police said residents of the building spotted her in Midtown and contacted police.
The teen was caught on surveillance footage walking into the illegally converted rooming house on Evergreen Avenue near Westchester Avenue in Soundview.
She had a bottle in her hand when she entered but left the building without it about 1:55 p.m., surveillance footage shows. Investigators believe she used an accelerant to light the blaze, which ripped through the two-story house.
Footage shows her coming and going from the building and one video shows her tucking a white bottle under her jacket.
The blaze spread to an adjoining building before more than100 firefighters could put it out. Two men, ages 30 and 32, suffered burns and smoke inhalation but were able to escape the burning house.
Dramatic video obtained by the Daily News shows one of those men climbing out a window onto a balcony. As smoke billows out a window, he leans back while two people help him onto the sidewalk below.
The man’s wife told the Daily News last week that he was in “a lot of pain” from burns he suffered before his escape.
“I pick up the medicine for him,” said the wife, who didn’t give his name. “He’s not OK. His face and the hands (are burned).”
Resident Ibrahaima Magassouba, 37, said a haircut may have saved his life — he works nights as an Uber driver and so usually sleeps during the day but he got up early to go for a trim and was back home but still awake when the blaze started.
“I come back, everything was fine. I went inside. Like two, three minutes, then I heard people running,” he said. “When I open my door there’s smoke coming from all over the place. I had to run outside. And then I seen the fire.”
“It was like the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life,” Magassouba added. “My neighbors, they had it worse. We had to help them break the windows. Nobody come out the door. Everybody had to come from the window.”
The man who escaped on the awning was one of his friends, he said.
“He got burned on the face. His jacket got burned,” he said. “His face is peeling off. … When he came out we had to put water on him.”
Neighbors described the dilapidated building as a rat-infested crack den, but Magassouba described the victim who died as a hardworking young man who moved to New York from Ohio and was trying to make ends meet.
Sakolly worked a night shift at a fried chicken restaurant and so slept in most mornings, Magassouba said.
“He’s a good kid. … He lived alone. He’s a hard worker,” Magassouba said. “That kid is a working kid. He don’t do no drugs. He don’t do nothing. The kid is good.”
“We want justice to be done,” he added. “That guy is not gonna come back no more. His family is not gonna see him again, you know?”
Records indicate the house should have been unoccupied. The city Department of Buildings issued a full vacate order in 2018. Instead, it was operating as an illegal rooming house, records show.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.