Police in the US state of Colorado are investigating what they believe is the murder of five people whose bodies were found inside a bar that was set on fire to possibly mask the killings, authorities said on Wednesday.
The fire at Fero’s Bar & Grill in Denver was reported just before closing time at 1:50 a.m., Police Chief Robert White told US media. When firefighters arrived, they found the bodies of four women and one man inside.
"The business has obviously been set on fire, an arson I'm guessing, to mask the homicide that occurred inside," police Commander Ronald Saunier said.
"There is just trauma, enough information to believe that we have a homicide that occurred here. They didn't perish in the fire."
No identifications were immediately available, and autopsies will be carried out to determine the cause of the deaths.
“It’s going to be a long, drawn-out investigation at this point,” Saunier added.
The five dead are believed to have been the only ones in the bar when the fire started, the Associated Press reported. Investigators are asking anyone who was at the bar earlier that night to come forward.
A former owner of the bar, Danny Fero, told the Denver Post that the business is now owned by his ex-wife, Young Suk Fero, and that he had “no clue” what happened.
The bar is located in a strip mall about five miles south of downtown Denver.
Frank Peluso, who works nearby, told the AP that business at the bar seemed to be declining and the owners have tried various ways to attract more patrons, including offering karaoke.
"It's one of those places that you wonder how it stays in business," Peluso said.