A neighbor, who’s a former firefighter and friend, was arrested in a suspicious fire of the home of Kenneth Walker, the only Black firefighter in North Tonawanda, N.Y., NBC News reported. The fire happened a few days after Walker said he received a racist and threatening letter in his mailbox that said if Walker didn’t resign from the fire company, he’d regret it. The letter also included the n-word and said that African-Americans “are not allowed to be firefighters.”
At a news press conference held on Friday, police said that the suspect Matthew Jurado, who lives across the street from Walker, admitted to the arson because he’d recently been let go from the Gratwick Hose Volunteer Fire Company. However, Jurado, 39, said that he never sent the racist letter and setting Walker’s house on fire had nothing to do with race.
“It’s sad that someone is so offended by my presence that they feel the need to burn my house down, if that indeed is what occurred,” Walker said at the same news conference.
As HELLO BEAUTIFUL previously reported, firefighters were called to put out a fire at a North Tonawanda, New York, apartment complex where Walker, his wife, and two children lived. The Walkers were not home, but two tenants who were asleep in their own apartments woke up when the smoke detector went off. Thankfully, no one was injured other than the Walkers two cats who died in the flames.
The Walkers also met with the FBI earlier this week to discuss the fire.
While the Walker family may have lost their home, they raised more than $80,000 on a A GoFundMe account set up to help them rebuild their lives, NBC noted.
We wish the Walker all the luck in the world.