Gravesite fire caused by candle, police say

The fire that charred mementos at the gravesite of slain teen Antwanisha Morgan — the most recent blow to the family and friends who, six months ago, lost Morgan to gunfire in the Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood — was most likely an accident caused by a candle, Colma police said Wednesday.

Still, Malika Crosby, Morgan’s mother, is not convinced the fire was simply an accident.

Early Monday morning, crews at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park found the charred remains of flowers, a vase and other personal items left at Morgan’s grave, police Cmdr. Greg Hart said. Also found was a single black plastic rose, which added to the suspicions among Morgan’s family of foul play, Hart said.

Though some of the items were removed to not upset visitors, Crosby saw some of what was left after the firewhen she arrived for her daily visit to the site.

“At that point, I just freaked out, called the office and told them what had happened,” Crosby said.

Colma police, who are handling the investigation, called an arson specialist to the gravesite to analyze the items. Findings do not show that the fire was malicious, Hart said. Instead, police say a candle left by a visitor may have tipped over and started the small fire, Hart said.

Police learned a family member told officers that the black plastic rose was purchased in anticipation of Halloween, Hart said.

“That was completely innocent,” Hart said. “[The investigation] is not over. But we’re pretty sure this was all an accident.”

It has been a seemingly endless waiting game for Crosby in the months since Morgan was shot and killed outside the Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement in San Francisco on March 16.

Crosby has shown up in court repeatedly for months, as the 14-year-old boy, whose name is not being released because he is a minor and was arrested in connection with Morgan’s killing, faced hearing after hearing. Crosby plans on attending another hearing next week.

“[Fire officials are] telling me now that it was a candle and it was an accident, but I don’t know. I really don’t think so,” Crosby said.

tramroop@examiner.com

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