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Dad, children ages 5 and 3 die in Akwesasne fire; mom, third son survive

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AKWESASNE - A father and his two sons died in a fire that swept through a home Sunday morning at 184 St. Regis Road, Akwesasne.

St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police identified the victims as Jarius Chrisjohn, 46, Javin Chrisjohn, 5, and Hunter Chrisjohn, 3.

Michelle David and her son, Jericho Chrisjohn, survived the house fire, they said.

Tribal officials said a joint investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, and they will release more details as they become available.

“We request everyone kindly respect the families’ request for privacy during this extremely difficult time,” they said in a news release. “On behalf of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, we express our deepest sympathy to the family.”

The house fire occurred at approximately 10:20 a.m. Sunday on St. Regis Road on the so-called American side of the transborder St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

Assisting with the investigation are state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Franklin County Cause and Origin Unit and the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

Police are asking for anyone with pertinent information regarding the incident to call Investigator Decota Thompson at (518)358-9200.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne expressed their condolences in a statement released Monday afternoon:

“The Akwesasne community has experienced a horrific tragedy this past weekend in the deaths of three community members, including two small children, during a house fire. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne sends its deepest condolences to the entire David family and all who have been affected by this unimaginable loss. We ask the community to unite and offer emotional support to those most in need, in any capacity you’re able to be. Our strengths as a caring, family-driven community will be most needed in the days ahead.

“We also ask the community to join us in recognizing all of Akwesasne’s first responders who remain dedicated to helping our community members as fast as possible, even when their own lives are put at risk.Despite the borders that dissect us, Akwesasne is one community.Our Akwesasne Mohawk Police were first to respond to the fire despite being outside of their official jurisdiction.The police and volunteer firefighters go above and beyond their duties to help our community members. They are heroes among us.All of our community’s police, ambulance staff and volunteer firefighters will need the community’s emotional support this week as they experience their own personal grief.

“A tragedy of this enormity ripples across the territory, affecting every household. We are all connected in some way. Akwesasne is in mourning and we ask our neighbors and the public to be mindful and respectful of this grieving period.Nia:wenhkowa for your understanding.

“It is due to this period of mourning that MCA has postponed all community meetings scheduled this week.The Tsi Snaihne, Kawehno:ke and Kana:takon district meetings were scheduled to take place today, Jan. 27, and the General Meeting was scheduled for this Thursday, Jan. 30.Future dates will be announced as soon as they are available.Chief Louise Thompson will attend the Kawehno:ke Community Centre tonight, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. should any community members attend who have not received notice of the cancellation.

“The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne’s Wholistic Health and Wellness Program has counselors available to meet with any community members in need.To make an appointment, contact 613-575-2341 Ext. 3100.”

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