VA PD and FD provide conflicting accounts over start of house fire

The child survived, and everyone was evacuated safely. However, Richmond's police chief was visibly shaken, holding back tears describing the scene at a press conference on Sunday.

Riot police rush demonstrators as they clear Lafayette Park and the area around it across from the White House for President Donald Trump to be able to walk through for a photo opportunity in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, during a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of Geor (photo credit: REUTERS)
Riot police rush demonstrators as they clear Lafayette Park and the area around it across from the White House for President Donald Trump to be able to walk through for a photo opportunity in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, during a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of Geor
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Protesters in Richmond, Virginia "intentionally" set fire to a home with a child inside and then impeded firefighters from responding to the scene, according to Richmond Police Chief Will Smith.
The child survived, and all those within the building were able to evacuate the house safely. However, Smith was visibly shaken, holding back tears as he described the scene at a press conference on Sunday.
“Last night, protesters intentionally set a fire to an occupied building on Broad Street. This is not the only occupied building that has been set fire to over the last two days, but they prohibited us from getting on scene," Smith told reporters Sunday. "We had to force our way to make a clear path for the fire department. Protesters intercepted the fire apparatus several blocks away with vehicles and blocked the fire department’s access to the structure fire. Inside that home was a child."
However, the fire department gave a different account of the events, which stated that the house - located on Monroe Street, not Broad Street - became inflame after a nearby car fire spread to the house, adding that only the exterior of the house was affected. They stated that fire rescue teams were not impeded by protesters but rather by burning trash cans.
"There was a single protester initially impeding our response, however, multiple individuals (amount undetermined) joined the single protester in stopping the truck from after it was already stopped," said Richmond Fire Lt. Christopher Armstrong, according to the fact-checking website Snopes. "At least two of individuals threw objects at the fire truck, shortly thereafter they all ran past the fire truck as Richmond Police Officers came around the corner as a response for our request for help."
Peaceful protests have unraveled into nightly riots all across the country following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody when a white police officer used his knee to pin him to the ground, resulting in death by asphyxiation.
Protesters have been rioting in Richmond since Friday. Smith placed most of the blame for the riots on "bad actors" looking to fan the flames of violence across the United States.
“When you take a legitimate issue and hijack it for unknown reasons, that is unacceptable to me; it’s unacceptable to the Richmond Police Department, unacceptable to the city of Richmond," the police chief said.
"We have people from across the country who have traveled many states to be here," he said. "We know that this is an organized effort. We’re committed to try and identify those that are behind it. And we’re doing our very level best to arrest those that are perpetrating the violence on our community, and our city, and our citizens.”


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