VALLEJO, Calif. (KTVU) - Police were searching Monday for a Vallejo man suspected of deliberately setting a house fire this weekend in which a 5-year-old boy was killed.
Investigators said Darrylone Shuemake Sr., 53, was considered to be dangerous. Anyone with information about his whereabouts was asked to call police. Investigators say the boy, identified as Dayleon Seil-Shuemake, was the suspect's son, police said.
The boy's mother and another 13-year-old child suffered severe burns during the incident, police said. The woman had second- and third-degree burns over almost half her body, authorities said. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was flown to the Burn Center at U.C. Davis Medical Center for advanced treatment. Her condition and the condition of the other victim were not immediately available.
Authorities were called to the house in the 800 block of Stella Street shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday morning after receiving a call for help. Several residents were able to escape the flames but the body of the younger boy was found inside the home after the blaze had been extinguished.
"He was a great kid. This just saddens me," said an onlooker Sunday afternoon, a woman who said she was the victim's cousin.
"He was just a beautiful kid. It's crazy that this had to happen to him," she added.
Neighbors who knew the little boy say he would turn six later this year, and Dayleon was a big fan of Stephen Curry.
"Sweet boy, very talkative social very athletic. Loved playing with his brothers in the street, playing baseball. Loved playing basketball, the Warriors was his favorite team," says family friend Tiffany Sanchez.
Neighbors say the little boy's mother told them she and Darrlyone got into some sort of argument before he started the fire. With help from specially trained canines, fire investigators determined some sort of accelerant was used to torch the house.
The fire started in the rear of the house, which is located in the Crest neighborhood. Investigators said the boy was trapped in a bedroom when the blaze broke out.
"It took place in the master bedroom of the residence. At that time the mother and the child were in the master bedroom," said Vallejo Police Lt. Jeff Bassett.
Arriving engines found a neighbor out front with a garden hose. He and his wife had helped the boy's mother, and teenage brother, when they escaped.
"She ran out of the house, yelling 'help me, help me, my baby, my baby, she was crying and her arms were all burned," neighbor Dorothy Ames said.
Her husband grabbed a garden hose in front of the house.
"I turned the hose on her, and hosed her to cool her off, and I asked where the baby was and I started to go in, " recounted Jeffrey Ames.
He crawled with the hose, trying to stay below the smoke, but realized he couldn't get through a wall of fire.
"I could only get halfway through the living room because of the smoke and the heat," Ames said emotionally, "I tried to hold my breath and go further, but I couldn't."
At that point his wife was afraid she might lose him to the fire.
"Windows started popping out, and the back of my head is catching on fire, because I'm watching," said Dorothy.
"I didn't want to see him die, but he stayed in there until the very end."
The little boy was dead by the time fire crews got to him. As with any fire death, it became a crime scene, and throughout the day, investigators pulled debris out so they could zero in on the cause.
"I used to call him a grown man in a little man's body," said the boy's cousin, who did not want to give her name.
"He was very smart, very independent, and he liked to help his mom, he loved his mama and his brothers," she added.
"It's just hard to wrap your mind around something happening like this."