Three bodies found in a still-burning home in Central Islip early Tuesday were later discovered to have gunshot wounds, and the fire that tore through the house was intentionally set, according to Suffolk police.
The bodies of Katrice Daniels, 31, Luis Calixto, 19, and another unidentified woman were discovered in the rear of the house shortly after an early morning 911 call brought dozens of firefighters to Hickory Street, where the Cape Cod-style home was already engulfed, according to police and fire officials.
Several hours passed after the flames were extinguished before police and medical examiner technicians were able to examine the badly damaged bodies closely enough to learn that all three had suffered gunshot wounds. The fire was determined to be arson; police declined to say how they believe the fast-moving fire was set or why.
Two children - a 6-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl - were standing outside the burning home when firefighters arrived. They had been asleep in a built-in garage converted into a bedroom and were able to get out a side exit, police said.
"The 6-year-old told us that he awoke and smelled smoke and he and his sister began coughing and he was able to take both of them outside," Fitzpatrick said.
Calixto's mother, Yolanda De Jesus, 49, said her son, known as Lulu, was likely with his girlfriend, who is in her early 20s.
"He was just starting out his life and he met this girl and he never introduced us to her," she said. "All we know is she would pick him up and that she has two kids." Calixto had a sister and two half-brothers and attended a mechanical school in Jamaica, Queens, she said.
"I really feel bad that I don't feel sorrow," she said. "I feel anger, anger, not pity. I am just mad. I don't know what else to do."
Neighbors said the speed of the fire caught them by surprise.
Daniel Sullivan, 43, who lives on the block, looked out his windows at about 5 a.m. and said he saw nothing amiss at the house.
"Twenty minutes later, the house was engulfed," he said.
"Every window, every doorway, flames were shooting out," he said. "There was no way you could have even attempted to get in there."
Neighbor Jesse Scott said the house was engulfed "in a matter of seconds."
"I can't say it was an explosion," Scott said. "It went up so fast. It seems like the front and the back was on fire."
The damage to the house was severe: both floors were gutted, and there was heavy water and smoke damage. The bedroom where the children slept was the least affected part of the house.
The children were taken to a hospital for a checkup but were not injured. Police were in contact with county Child Protective Services.
The owner of the home, Kim Graves of Brooklyn, arrived at the scene in the late morning but would not say who was in the rented house. The house has no previous code violations, according to a Town of Islip spokeswoman.
Four chiefs and 63 members of the Central Islip Fire Department responded to the blaze and were assisted by members of the Islip Terrace, Hauppauge, Brentwood, Lakeland and East Brentwood departments. The blaze was brought under control at 6:53 a.m. Three Central Islip firefighters were treated for minor burns and other injuries.
With John Valenti