Man charged with torching black upstate N.Y. firefighter’s home
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Friday, August 5, 2016, 10:29 AM
The lone black firefighter of an upstate New York town whose home burned to the ground just two days after receiving a racist letter was shocked to learn that man arrested for the act of arson was a neighbor and former firefighter.
Matthew Jurado, 39, admitted to police that he torched Kenneth Walker’s North Tonawanda home in retaliation for getting removed from his job as a volunteer firefighter. He did not claim responsibility for the hate-filled letter, but claims “he knows who wrote it.”
Police told WGRZ that Jurado “didn’t want to tell us who that person was,” that wrote the nasty note.
Jurado had been recently let go from the Live Hose Co. No. 4 volunteer fire department because he was not properly trained, Buffalo News reported. The suspected arsonist told police that he set fire to Walker’s home in retaliation for losing his job. Walker and Jurado had trained together but worked at two different departments in North Tonawanda, just north of Buffalo.
Matthew Jurado, 39, was charged with arson.
Jurado told police that “it was not race related, but rather he was upset with the fire department because he has recently been removed from the volunteer fire department,” according to WGRZ.
On Monday, Walker received a typed letter in his mailbox, warning him that if he did not quit his position as a volunteer firefighter he would “regret it.” The letter used the racial slur “n—-r” twice.
Two days later, flames tore through his home, leaving him and his family homeless
Kenneth Walker received a typed letter in his mailbox, warning him that if he did not quit his position at the North Tonawanda volunteer fire department he would “regret it.”
Walker and his wife were at work at the time of the fire and their two young daughters weren’t inside the house. The Walker family lost two cats in the blaze and all of their belongings.
Walker’s uncle, Robert Sands, told Buffalo News that Jurado was a “friend” to Walker and that the two had trained together in the fire academy, but had worked in different fire departments.
Sands said he believes he saw Jurado at the scene of the fire.Jurado’s girlfriend was the one to call 911 to report the fire, police said.
Kenneth Walker received a threatening letter two days before the fire.
“I believe I talked with him,” Sands said. “His girlfriend was there. It’s really mind-boggling.”
He said Walker “is really relieved” that someone has been arrested for the crime but “part of him is hurt because he trained with this guy at the fire academy and he’s a neighbor … Kenneth kind of thought of him as a friend.”
Another volunteer firefighter, Shawn Moynihan, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for Walker and his family. So far the fundraising effort raised over $ 90,000 of the $ 100,000 goal.
“Nobody should ever have to go through what this man and his family are going through. It does not matter what color we are on the outside —we all bleed red,’ Jill S. Mailler wrote on the crowdfunding page.
Jurado is expected to be arraigned on the arson charge in court in North Tonawanda Friday morning.