The father of three children killed in a New Orleans house fire has been arrested in connection with their deaths, police said.
Joseph Washington, 29, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of cruelty to a juvenile, and one count of aggravated arson, the New Orleans Police Department said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators said the incident allegedly was the result of a domestic dispute.
Police were on the lookout for Washington’s car which was discovered partially submerged in the Mississippi River on Wednesday morning, police said.
On Wednesday afternoon, authorities attempted to pull Washington over in another vehicle and when he was stopped Washington attempted to flee by jumping off the overpass, police said.
Washington was taken into custody and brought to a hospital to treat unknown injuries sustained during apprehension, according to police.
His arrest comes after authorities received a 911 call shortly before midnight on Tuesday from a mother who said the father of her children intended to burn their home down, the department’s Child Abuse Unit said in a news statement.
At the time of the call the mother was on her way to the house, police said.
Moments later, a fire was reported at a single-family home in New Orleans East, according to police.
When firefighters arrived at the scene they immediately discovered two unresponsive children, a five-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, one a few feet from the front door and one not far away between the kitchen and the front door, police said.
“Firefighters made attempts to resuscitate both kids before both being transported to an area hospital by New Orleans Emergency Medical Services,” police said.
The two children were pronounced dead an hour later, according to police.
As firefighters continued to quell the flames they discovered a third child, a 3-year-old boy, police said.
“The third child, a toddler, was found near the center of the dwelling,” police said. “It was determined that the child had succumbed to injuries sustained on the scene.”
The cause of death for the three children will be determined by the coroner, according to police.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, police said.