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'Don't let this child's death be in vain' | Community demands action after 9-year-old dies in fire

Friends, family and neighbors held a vigil for Yafet Solomon outside of his home Friday night.

WASHINGTON — The Northwest D.C. community is demanding action after nine-year-old Yafet Solomon was killed in a house fire.

Two weeks after he died in his home on the 700 block of Kennedy Street Northwest, friends, family and neighbors held a candlelight vigil for him at the site.

Classmates from Barnard Elementary shared memories of a young boy who was already a role model for them.

"I was Yafet’s friend," nine-year-old Jackson Benefield said. "I met him in kindergarten, and he always used to keep me out of trouble, and when I got the news, I was very sad, but I know he’s in a very safe place now."

RELATED: 4 DC employees on paid leave after house fire that killed a 9-year-old boy

Shortly after the fire, DCRA released that the row home he was living in had not been properly inspected and showed a variety of fire hazards.

Four D.C. employees are now on paid leave because of the oversight.

RELATED: Friend of boy, 9, killed in DC fire: He wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an engineer. And we were going to Harvard together.

Neighboring business owners said it's time to hold their leaders accountable.

"We only show up when someone dies. What is that?" one business owner said "That’s not pleasing to God. It’s not pleasing to our neighbors. It’s not pleasing to a child’s hope for the future."

Credit: wusa9

One of Solomon's teachers said that future was bright.

“Yafet read more books in one year than any of our fourth graders or our third graders last year, so I want you boys and girls who are here to pick up a book," the teacher said.

Other students' parents also noticed the positive impact he was having on their children.

"My son couldn’t be here today, because he really broke down," Laphedona Johnson, whose nine-year-old son was in Solomon's class, said. "He said he couldn’t come, and he really liked him."

Fueled by memories of a student with such potential, neighbors said they hope this tragedy finally sparks change.

"Don't let the child's death be in vain," one neighbor said.

Credit: Jess Arnold
Nine-year-old Yafet Solomon's mom cries as classmates share memories of her son.

RELATED: 9-year-old rescued from Northwest DC fire has died, officials say

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