Law enforcement authorities offered a $2,500 reward Monday for tips that can lead investigators to the arsonist who torched two vehicles belonging to a New Orleans political consultant and fundraiser.
The Nov. 6 firebombing also ignited the Prytania Street home where the consultant, Mario Zervigon, lived with his family. Eight people escaped the Uptown residence’s three apartments, but three cats were killed.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the reward would be paid to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who started the fire.
“We will use every available resource to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion,” said Phillip Durham, the special agent in charge of the ATF’s New Orleans field office.
Separate fires targeting Zervigon’s two vehicles — one parked next to the home, the other on Constantinople Street — were set about 2:30 a.m. Flames engulfing the vehicle next to the home spread to the residence, where Zervigon, his wife and their two young children were sleeping.
The ATF quickly concluded the fires had been set intentionally, though the motive has remained elusive.
“The people who live upstairs barely got out of the house,” Zervigon said hours after the fires were extinguished. “I think that whatever idiot did it didn’t realize they were going to catch the house on fire.”
Agent Kevin Moran, an ATF spokesman, said investigators still are waiting for evidence from the scene to be processed.
“Typically, these arsons take a little time to work just because of the amount of evidence that needs to be collected,” he said. “What we do is try to collect as much as we can to try to exclude people as suspects, and that is just a tedious environment.”
Zervigon, who has said he doesn’t know whether he was specifically targeted, most recently worked on the campaigns of Forest Wright, who is seeking a seat on the Louisiana Public Service Commission, and Bernadette D’Souza, an Orleans Parish Civil District Court judge re-elected in a landslide Nov. 4. Wright will face incumbent Commissioner Eric Skrmetta in a Dec. 6 runoff.
The ATF asked anyone with information about the firebombing to call (504) 841-7000 or email ATFTips@atf.gov.
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.