*An arrest has been made in the case of black firefighter Kenneth Walker, whose house was burned to the ground two days after receiving a racist and threatening letter saying “N****** are not allowed to be firefighters.”
Matthew Jurado, a former firefighter who lived directly across the street from Walker, was arrested Thursday, for setting fire to Walker’s home, North Tonawanda police Capt. Thomas Krantz said at a news conference.
Jurado, who police said knew Walker personally, was charged with arson in the second degree.
Jurado, 39, admitted to police that he started the fire but said another firefighter wrote the racist letter, Krantz said. Police said they are still looking into the possibility that Jurado wrote it himself.
The letter said, “N****** are not allowed to be firefighters. No one wants you in this city. You have until the end of the week to resign your position or you will regret it…N*****.”
Jurado told police that the arson was not “race-related, but rather he was upset with the fire department” because he had been removed in July for not meeting “necessary training requirements,” officials said.
Police described Jurado as Walker’s “friend or acquaintance” and the two had taken some training courses together.
The FBI said they had received a copy of the racist note sent to Walker and were notified of the arson. “Our office is conducting a review to determine what investigative steps are indicated under FBI policy with regard to federal jurisdiction in this matter,” FBI spokesperson Maureen Dempsey said in a statement.
Walker and his family were not home when the arson occurred, but his two cats died in the fire.
A GoFundMe page set up to help Walker raised more than $90,000. However, Walker wrote on Facebook that, “my family does not need a go fund me page or any special treatment. We are strong and will get through it…There’s no need for money. Your kind words are more than enough.”
He also said on Facebook, “I won’t be intimidated.”