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Authorities seek help identifying 'person of interest' in Lackawanna arson

Law enforcement authorities are seeking the public's help in identifying a "person of interest" videotaped riding a bicycle near the scene of an arson that injured seven people and routed four families in Lackawanna in April.

A surveillance video showed the person riding a bicycle near the Ingham Avenue residence shortly before the fire was reported at around 3:30 a.m. April 22, said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn during a news conference Wednesday.

Five members of the Khaled Soliman family were among those injured in the blaze. The fire began in a rear entranceway of the building, trapping the family in their rear upper apartment and forcing the parents and three children to be rescued from a second-floor window, said Lackawanna Police Chief James Michel.

$10,000 reward offered for info on suspicious fire that hurt 7 in Lackawanna

Another suspicious fire had been reported at the same location April 7, when a burning telephone book was found on the front porch, officials said. The apartment building is one of six residences in Lackawanna owned by the Lackawanna Islamic Mosque. All provide housing to newly arrived immigrants.

Flynn said he is not prosecuting the arson as a hate crime, but will if facts indicate the fire was racially motivated.

Crime Stoppers added $1,000 to the $10,000 reward initially offered by the Muslim Public Affairs Council for information leading to the arrest of the arsonist.

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