An arson attack against an immigrant-owned store appears to have been racially motivated, according to authorities in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Thursday incident involved a store that specializes in goods imported from India.
The suspect, 32-year-old Curtis Flournoy, was arrested Sunday and charged with multiple counts, including burning a commercial building, malicious damage by use of an incendiary material, anonymous or threatening letters, and ethnic intimidation. According to police reports, he's a black man.
Before the fire, a rock wrapped in a note was thrown into the business, breaking a window. The note was signed “White America,” The Charlotte Observer reports.
Authorities stated that the note contained threats against refugee business owners.
At some point in the note, the suspect said he would torture the owner if they did not leave and go back to where they came from.
The store owner, Kamal Dhimel, migrated from Bhutan but lived in Nepal previously. He moved to the United States in 2010. In 2014, he opened his business, selling goods from India, Pakistan, and Nepal, among other countries. When talking to reporters about the arson incident and note, he said he had never faced any anti-immigrant attitudes in the country.
Authorities didn't have any information on the suspect or whether he had an attorney.
Local community members have set up a GoFundMe page seeking to raise $2,500 for Dhimel so his store can be repaired.
It's terribly sad to see this type of attack on an immigrant-owned store.
It's in times of great tension caused by politicians who are far removed from reality that people from all backgrounds must come together, especially as the country braces for yet another U.S. escalation in the Middle East, which could drive the number of refugees up and worsen the global refugee crisis.