A New York couple and their five children are lucky to be alive after they narrowly escaped a fire seemingly set by an arsonist with a racist agenda.
Laquan Madison awoke to use the bathroom shortly before midnight May 14 when he said he noticed “an orange glow.” In that moment, Madison realized part of his home was on fire and rushed to get his wife and kids to safety.
“I screamed my wife’s name,” Madison told the Albany Times Union. “We all got out.”
Investigators soon arrived at the scene to find a swastika and a racial slur spray-painted on the family’s home. It took the efforts of five volunteer fire departments to quell the blaze, which reduced their garage to rubble. The exterior of the family’s Schodak, N.Y., home, which isn’t far from the garage, also suffered some damage, according to a local police chief.
“It’s not going to force me to move,” Madison, 31, told reporters Monday afternoon when he returned to his charred home.
His wife, Jennifer Madison, agreed, saying, “This is our home. This is where we live.”
She told reporters that she’d experienced a similar hate crime while living in Nassau, N.Y., where someone spray-painted the N-word on her door.
“We’re OK. This is just something I accept,” Jennifer Madison said. “This is the world that we’re living in.”
The Madisons and their children, including a newborn, managed to escape without injury, but Schodack police Chief Joseph Belardo said the family is still “emotionally traumatized” by the whole ordeal. The family’s chickens and goats also were saved.
Sunday’s incident is now being investigated as a hate crime.
“How do you feel safe in your home now?” Belardo said, noting that hate crimes are not “something that happen very often” in the quiet rural neighborhood. “Whoever did this will be facing some very serious charges.”
Laquan Madison told the Albany newspaper that while he doesn’t forgive the arsonist for what he or she did, “People are going to be who they are.
“My hope is they understand life is not a joke,” he said. “You can’t toy with people.”