Federal and local Southern California officials are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to arrests in the May 12 arson attack on the Ramona Gardens apartment complex in Boyle Heights.
FBI investigator Tim Delaney said the attack happened just after midnight. A surveillance video was released showing a group of eight unidentified individuals entering the complex. A large flash of light appears after which the group runs away from the scene.
“Certainly the possibility that this attack was racially motivated is among the working theories of the investigators," Delaney said. "But until we identify the suspects and further the investigation, it would be premature to confirm that."
Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the area, said that if it is a hate crime, the attack is even more despicable.
"Our diversity is what makes Los Angeles one of the most interesting cities in the world. And so this will not be tolerated. This will not be accepted," Huizar said.
Three black families and one Latino family were targeted in the attack. No one was injured.
The attack adds to a history of racial tensions in the complex, where two black families were firebombed in 1992. The two incidents are not related, according to the LAPD.
There are 1,756 people living in Ramona Gardens. Roughly 94 percent are Hispanic and about 4 percent are black, according to the L.A. City Housing Authority.
Lou Calanche, a Boyle Heights community activist who spent her childhood at Ramona Gardens, said she believes times have changed and the attacks are more about gangs than race.
"Latinos and blacks have high dropout rates and murder rates. We're in the same boat, and it doesn't make sense for this to happen," said Calanche, who runs the nonprofit Legacy L.A., a youth empowerment organization in Boyle Heights.
Officials are asking the public for tips in solving the case at (213) 484-6700 or via email at Rgtf@lapd.lacity.org.