A former firefighter was arrested in a suspicious blaze that gutted the home of Kenneth Walker, the only black firefighter in North Tonawanda, New York, police said Thursday. The fire erupted two days after Walker reported finding a racist and threatening letter in his mailbox, NBC News reported
North Tonawanda police Capt. Thomas Krantz said at a news conference that the suspect, Matthew Jurado, 39 — who lives across the street from Walker — admitted having set the fire because he'd recently been "removed" from the Gratwick Hose Volunteer Fire Company.
But Jurado, who was charged with second-degree arson, denied that he'd sent the letter and insisted that the fire wasn't race-related, Krantz said.
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Walker, 28, his wife, Amanda, and their two kids weren't in their apartment when the blaze broke out Wednesday, police said.