The scene from the arson attack on Ararat Armenian Cemetery in Fresno

$2K Offered for Information on Armenian Cemetery Arsons in Fresno

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By Jason Takhtadjian

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A cash incentive is being offered to anyone from the public with any information regarding the recent arsons at the Ararat Armenian Cemetery.

The Fresno police and fire departments announced that they were unable to catch the person responsible for burning a tree at the Ararat Armenian cemetery on Sunday, April 21.

“There was actually two police officers on the scene investigating a separate matter. They responded quickly, about 15 police officers on the perimeter, and CHP assisted us with their police helicopter. Unfortunately, although we were very close, we were not able to apprehend the suspect in this case,” Chief of Police Paco Balderrama said.

A $2,000 award is now available for anyone with information that will assist in an arrest connected to this year’s arsons.

“We need to find out who is setting these fires. We need to apprehend this person. We need to keep the community safe,” Chief Balderrama said.

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According to the Chief of Police, Fresno Fire has responded to 11 fires at the cemetery involving trees since Jan. 13, 2024.

“Approximately 30 trees have been damaged and 20 of these incidents have occurred at the Ararat Armenian Cemetery at least on their property,” Fire Chief Billy Alcorn said.

Deputy Fire Marshal Jay Tracy says there is no evidence of a hate crime, given these recent arsons have happened during Armenian Heritage Month and nearby Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

“We don’t have a suspect, and without a suspect, we do always keep that avenue open, but at this point, we have nothing that would lead us to believe there is any sort of a hate crime,” Deputy Fire Marshal Jay Tracy said.

Anyone with any information that would lead to an arrest in any arson cases involving the cemetery is asked to contact Valley Crime Stoppers at 559-498-7867.

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