Mass. FF's LODD ruled a homicide, suspect charged
A suspect has been charged in the death of Worcester Firefighter Christopher Roy
By Melissa Hanson
MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.
Months after a five-alarm blaze claimed the life of Worcester Firefighter Christopher Roy, Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. was finally able to announce that a suspect is being charged with the firefighter's death on Friday.
A Worcester County Grand Jury indicted 21-year-old Momoh Kamara, of 157 Hartwell St. in West Boylston, on charges of second degree murder, arson of a dwelling, armed burglary and malicious destruction of a motor vehicle, Early said during a press conference. He praised a team investigative effort by his office, the Worcester police and fire departments, as well as ATF and other officials.
Worcester firefighters filled the courtroom as Early made the announcement, hands folded and a solemn look in their eyes.
"While we are heartened that Mr. Kamara will face justice, our department is still devastated by the loss of our brother firefighter Christopher Roy," Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said during the press conference.
Kamara is a former resident of 5-7 Lowell St., Early said, the three-story building that caught fire on Dec. 9. Roy and fellow firefighters tried to quell the five-alarm blaze as flames grew.
But Roy became trapped on the second floor of the six-unit building. After fellow firefighters pulled Roy out of the burning building, he succumbed to his injuries.
The loss of 36-year-old Roy in December was mourned by many in the city and greater region -- upwards of 10,000 firefighters attended Roy's funeral.
The loss was especially heart-wrenching for the Worcester Fire Department, which has a sad history of firefighter deaths in the month of December, including the loss of the "Worcester Six" in the Cold Storage Warehouse Fire on Dec. 3, 1999, and the death of Firefighter Jon D. Davies Sr. in a Dec. 8, 2011 blaze.
On Friday morning, Kamara was arrested in West Boylston on a warrant charging him with murder, arson, armed burglary and malicious damage to a motor vehicle in connection with the fatal fire and Roy's death.
At his arraignment in Worcester Superior Court Friday afternoon, Kamara pleaded not guilty. He was ordered held without bail.
An exact motive for the crime was not released, but prosecutor Jeffrey Travers did say that when Kamara lived at 5-7 Lowell St., he had disagreements with roommates.
It appeared that on the morning of the fatal fire, Kamara took an Uber early that dropped him off near Clark University in Worcester's Main South neighborhood. Police tracked Kamara's movements from there by utilizing surveillance video, which showed him entering Lowell Street around 2:30 a.m., Travers said during the arraignment.
Kamara set several fires in the basement while residents were inside the 100-year-old building, according to the prosecutor.
The fire was reported at 3:58 a.m., Travers said.
The Worcester Police Department arrived at the scene at 4:04 a.m., Travers said. Firefighters arrived one minute later.
Surveillance video picked up images of Kamara leaving Lowell Street near the intersection with Main Street within four or five minutes of police and fire arriving at the fire, Travers said.
Kamara then walked away and took a Lyft ride out of Worcester.
Prosecutors say Momoh Kamara rode Uber to his former apartment building and set fire that would claim life of firefighter Christopher Roy
Kamara was indicted and arraigned in Worcester Superior Court on Friday.
Kamara has never been convicted of a crime but was accused of strangling his girlfriend in 2017. The case was dismissed a few months later.
Roy, who had been a firefighter for two and a half years, lived in Shrewsbury with his 9-year-old daughter, Ava.
Week after week fundraisers to support Ava have been announced across Central Massachusetts.
Lavoie, Early, Worcester Police Chief Steven Sargent and Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. all said the Roy family has remained in their thoughts in the months since the blaze.
"The past three months have been extremely difficult for all of us as we continue to mourn his loss," Lavoie said. "The Roy family remains in our thoughts and hearts as the investigation moves forward to the prosecution phase."
Sargent said the city came together in one of its darkest moments.
"We will never forget his sacrifice," Sargent said, adding that Roy defines what it means to be a hero.
When thousands mourned the loss of Roy at his funeral, he was remembered as a martyr.
"What Chris did the other morning, of course it went way beyond the norm because this is what you do" as a firefighter, Rev. Walter Riley, the Worcester Fire Department Chaplain said during Roy's funeral Mass.
"Christopher Roy is at peace after a Sunday morning of treachery, disorientation," Riley said. "Christopher Roy is a Worcester martyr."
Friends and family recalled his endless love for his daughter.
"You were your father's world," Roy's friend and fellow firefighter, David Scavone, told Ava during a eulogy for Roy. "He moved heaven and Earth to give you the best life possible that you deserved."
"Christopher Roy is at peace after a Sunday morning of treachery, disorientation," Riley said. "Christopher Roy is a Worcester martyr.
Members of the fire department have remained committed to their jobs even while grieving the death of Roy.
"I want to ensure this community that our firefighters before this fire and since have exhibited the courage to answer every call for help and the bravery to get their jobs done and that's not going to change," Michael Papagni, the president of the Worcester Firefighters IAFF Local 1009.
The fire chief echoed that sentiment.
"Our members have not and will not waiver from their commitment to serve whenever and wherever we are called," Lavoie said.
As of Friday morning, a death certificate on file at the Worcester city clerk's office listed Roy's cause of death as smoke inhalation, the manner of death as homicide and the time of death listed as 6:25 p.m. on Dec. 9.
Previously, the certificate listed Roy's cause of death as "pending."
In mid-February The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, started its investigation into Roy's death.
The Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program by NIOSH is intended to help provide information to prevent future fatalities by identifying factors that contributed to firefighter deaths. The program is not intended to enforce compliance with regulations or assess culpability.
The agency said it is difficult to determine how long it will take to complete an investigation and release a report.
Other agencies investigating Roy's death include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state fire marshal's office.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said it is unclear how long the investigation will take.
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