Arson Investigation

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

"We're scared of everyone in this neighborhood; drug dealers, prostitutes; it's not safe for a little kid.

Not much older than a little kid herself, 15-year-old Aseel Machi speaks for her family, in the shadow of what was their home on Bensch Street in Lansing.

"12, 13 years, we've never had any major trouble," she says of their time in the U.S. They escaped violence in war-torn Iraq.

Friday, in the early morning, police say someone set the blaze that charred their house. They tell us it's the fourth, at least, in a series of attacks against the Machi family.

Their car was set on fire, someone threw a rock through a window, and most recently, someone threw soda bottles full of gasoline through the window at night. Machi says, "It's not safe to stay here."

The investigation is firmly focused on a family the Machi's had a physical confrontation this summer.

Aseel took the stand against one brother in the family. She says he'll be deported on her say-so, and this fire is payback.

The fire department confirms there was an accelerant, probably gas, poured on the deck, and the side of the house. They said it is no question, an arson.

The Machi's are staying at a hotel for now, with help from the Red Cross. They fear for their safety until the arsonists are caught. They fear for the future, in a community they've come to know as home.

"It's a bad place, a bad neighborhood right now. We're looking for a better place in Lansing."

Call 517-483-6049 with tips on who may have set the fire. Police are offering a $5,000 reward.


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