Rhea Mahbubani

Death of 5-Year-Old Boy in Vallejo House Fire Turns Into Murder Investigation

The death of a 5-year-old boy Sunday morning in a two-alarm house fire in Vallejo has turned into a murder investigation, with police looking at the boy's father as a possible suspect, Vallejo police said Monday.

Vallejo police are looking for 53-year-old Darrylone Shuemake Sr., who they believe used an accelerant to set the house on fire while his son Dayleon was still inside.

"I couldn’t speak to his motivations or what he was expecting," said Lt. Jeff Bassett of the Vallejo Police Deaprtment. "Obviously, that is a dangerous situation. A rational person would expect in this circumstance you could kill or severely injure someone, and that’s exactly what happened."

The fire also severely burned Dayleon's mother and 13-year-old older brother.

The fire broke out in the 800 block of Stella Street at 9:54 a.m., and callers reported heavy smoke and a 5-year-old possibly trapped inside the single-family residence, according to officials. 

According to police, both police and fire crews responded to the scene and found the house engulfed in flames. While several residents were able to escape the fire, the child was found dead inside the master bedroom. Vallejo police believe the child succumbed to the fire.

Shuemake is considered armed and dangerous, and the Vallejo Police Department is asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact the Vallejo Police Department or their local police agency.

Neighbors are in mourning. They say Dayleon brought joy to their street. He was always outside playing basketball and loved the Warriors.

"He always had a smile on his face. He wanted to be like Steph Curry. He was always outside with his little friends they would be bouncing balls and riding bikes," said Raylene Hepler.

Neighbors described the couple's relationship as stormy. They say they were constanly fighting.

"I saw a couple of weeks ago the father was pushing the mother around in the yard," said Dorothy Aimes.

Neighbors say despite the turmoil, little Dayleon always put on a happy face.

On Sunday, Vallejo police detectives, fire investigators and crime scene personnel were called in to investigate the scene.

Fire crews were "met by many neighbors trying to assist in getting the one victim out, who was found in a back bedroom of a fully involved bedroom," said fire department spokesman Mark Libby.

The sight of flames and thick smoke pouring from windows prompted the fire department to call a second alarm and make an "aggressive interior attack in an attempt to locate the victim," Vallejo fire officials told NBC Bay Area via Twitter. However, efforts to "immediately try and rescue the victim" were unsuccessful.

Neighbor Jossilene River said she heard screams coming from the house.

"I heard like a lady screaming for help and to call 911," she recalled.

Jeff Ames, who lives nearby and saw the flames and smoke, called the police and even tried to extinguish the fire. He "took the hose and went in the building," but only made it into the living room, he said.

Ames said he hosed down the female burn victim, but regrets being unable to do more. "I feel a certain grief," he said. 

The teenage boy burned in the fire was treated and released. The mother's condition is unknown, and she was still being treated for burns Monday night.

The Vallejo Police Department is encouraging anyone who may have additional information on the fire to contact Detective Jason Martinez at (707) 648-4279 or Detective Mat Mustard at (707) 648-4514.

Pete Suratos and Rhea Mahbubani contributed to this report.

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