A neighbor was arrested for setting fire to the home of a black firefighter in upstate New York, according to local reports.
Matthew Jurado was apprehended by North Tonawanda Police on Aug. 4, charging him with second degree arson for the fire that left Kenneth Walker and his family homeless.
According to authorities, Jurado admitted to the crime and said his actions weren’t motivated by race but anger over his firing from the fire department. Jurado was removed for inadequate training, reported the North Tonawanda Times.
Jurado and Walker were not in the same volunteer company but were known to one another. Both men live directly across the street from each other.
Walker, his wife, Amanda, and their two children were not in their home at the time of the fire. The family lost all of their possessions—including two pet cats in the fire.
Two days before Walker’s home was set ablaze, he received a threatening letter calling for his resignation from the department or “he’ll regret it.”
The anonymous letter also stated that “[expletive] are not allowed to be firefighters” and “no one wants you in this city.” Walker is the sole African American volunteer firefighter with the Gratwick Hose fire department.
— The Buffalo News (@TheBuffaloNews) August 5, 2016
Jurado said his friend is responsible for the letter.
“He knows who wrote it, but he didn’t want to tell us who that person was,” said Detective Captain Thomas Krantz, WGRZ-TV reported. “So right now, it’s an ongoing investigation still in regards to the letter and then any other information that comes up, any other leads we will be following up on.”
According to the North Tonawanda Times, Jurado said he didn’t write the letter.
The FBI has joined the investigation to find the author of the letter.
“FBI has received a copy of the note left at Mr. Walker’s residence and we were notified of the fire that occurred there,” FBI spokeswoman Maureen Dempsey said in a statement to 7 Eyewitness News. “Our office is conducting a review to determine what investigative steps are indicated under FBI policy with regard to federal jurisdiction in this matter.”
A GoFundMe page was set up to help the family.