Edmonton

Don't speculate: Aunt of infant killed in Edmonton arson fire pleads for compassion

The aunt of an infant killed in an arson fire now being investigated as a homicide is pleading with the public to withhold judgement on the circumstances of the boy's death.

'Please don’t spend your time speculating about what happened'

Baby Hunter died after being rescued from a burning house in the Ambleside neighbourhood on Tuesday. (Judith Lam Tang)

The aunt of an infant killed in an arson fire now being investigated as a homicide is pleading with the public to withhold judgement on the circumstances of the boy's death.

Baby Hunter died in hospital after being rescued from a burning house in southwest Edmonton on Tuesday. He was five months old.

His mother, Angie Tang, remains in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Edmonton homicide detectives have described the fire as suspicious. No suspects are in custody. Crews began demolishing the gutted home on Thursday. Fire officials said earlier this week that work would not begin until the on-scene investigation had been complete. 

"There are people who will make judgements from what they see, or read, or hear," Judith Lam Tang wrote in a personal blog post on Wednesday.

"Please consider that every person deals with tragedy, with loss, with heartbreak, in a different way. None of us are calm, well-spoken, rational people in a situation like this."

Demolition crews began tearing down the burned out home on Thursday. (CBC)
 

'We are scared and trying to be strong'

Lam Tang, who said she is married to Angie's eldest brother, said the family has been subject to intense scrutiny since the "unthinkable" tragedy. 

"Please don't spend your time speculating about what happened, and let the police do their job," she wrote. "Instead, I encourage you to spend your time cherishing your own family and holding them close, because life is so precious."

She said curiosity about the case, and the media's desire to get the "inside scoop" is undermining the family's ability to heal. They need time to grieve for Hunter and pray for Angie's recovery, she wrote.

"I want to set the record straight. I can't speak for everyone. But I can speak for Angie's immediate family because we are in this together. We are grieving together. We are surviving together.

"We are barely holding it together because we are overcome by the loss of our precious Hunter. We are scared and trying to be strong for Angie."

Sleeping in the upstairs bedroom, Hunter and his mother were trapped when the fire broke out in the house at 1040 Armitage Cres. SW.

Firefighters pulled them from the burning house, but Hunter later died of smoke inhalation.

Hunter's father Cordell Brown and six other people who lived in the home were able to escape on their own.

Investigators say the fire was deliberately set.

'His little face was pure perfection'

While frustrated by speculation about the investigation, Lam Tang said the family has found comfort in an outpouring of condolences from friends, family and complete strangers.

Lam Tang said she has been close with the family since high school.

She said the family was enthralled with Hunter and fondly recalled the last time she rocked the giggling boy to sleep.

"Hunter patted my face with his hand and I made faces at him. He opened his mouth to laugh and giggle. I loved his smile and his innocent joy.

"His little face was pure perfection."

Lam Tang has not responded to CBC News requests for an interview.
The cause of the house fire remains under investigation by Edmonton Fire Rescue Services and Edmonton police. (Nola Keeler/CBC)