1 child, 2 adults dead after fire burns through Queens home

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, July 12, 2019
Sources: Deadly NYC fire set by unstable tenant facing eviction
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CeFaan Kim has the details from East Elmhurst.

EAST ELMHURST, Queens (WABC) -- A dispute with a tenant may have sparked a deadly house fire in Queens that left three people dead -- including a young girl, her great-grandfather and the suspect -- and two others critically injured.

The two-alarm fire broke out shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday at a home on 93rd Street in East Elmhurst.

Sources say the fire was set on purpose by an unstable tenant who the homeowner was trying to evict.

Police say the homeowner, Raffalina Moreno, took the suspect in as a house guest on Monday after he made up a story that he was assaulted and robbed.

But by Wednesday they had a dispute and she asked him to leave.

She told investigators he called her around the time the fire started, leading investigators to quickly suspect it was set and identify him as a suspect.

Raffalina's sister Elizabeth Rodriguez, 35, arrived last week to visit with her family from the Dominican Republic like they do every year.

After the fire started, Rodriguez was able to escape the burning home with her 10-month-old son. Three others were trapped inside.

Her 6-year-old daughter Emma Dominguez died at the scene. Rodriguez's grandfather, 76-year-old Claudio Dominguez-Rodriguez, was also killed. They both died of smoke inhalation and burns.

Now Rodriguez and her son, Liam Dominquez, are clinging to life. Firefighters were also able to rescue the family dog.

"They're a beautiful family, they open their doors, they always help out," a neighbor said.

Sources say the tenant and suspect, 23-year-old David Abreu Nunez, was also killed by the fire.

He became violent Wednesday and threw gasoline in the kitchen to set off the deadly chain of events, sources said. After setting the fire, police say he suffered a medical episode and went into cardiac arrest.

Days before he is suspected of torching the kitchen, Nunez admitted he was "feeling depressed" when he made up the story that he had been raped by four masked men in his Bronx apartment. He said he made the story up to get back at his ex-boyfriend for mistreating him.

He was charged with filing a false police report last Sunday after detectives quickly realized he made the story up.

As a makeshift memorial grew outside the family's home Thursday, family and loved ones comforted each other as they salvaged what was left from inside the home.

They said a birthday party was planned at the house for this weekend.

"We were planning birthday parties, now we have to plan funerals," a loved one said.

The funerals are being planned for the Dominican Republic


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