A black man was arrested April 9, for what police in Charlotte, N.C., investigated as a hate crime, when he set fire to a store owned by a South Asian, April 6 night.
On April 7, the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department (CMPD) put up surveillance video on Twitter asking for information from anyone who could recognize the possible suspect. It showed a black man, described by police as around 5’8″ tall and 200 pounds. The video showed the suspect wearing a light colored hoodie under a dark jacket, light jeans, and black shoes.
Police found a written note on the site which said the owner of the store would be tortured if they did not go home from where they came. A GoFundMe page to raise funds for store owner Kamal Dhimal, published the note on its site (see below). News reports and the GoFundMe page said Dhimal is a refugee from Bhutan, who fled to Nepal in the early 1990s, and moved to the U.S. in 2010. He opened his store in 2014.
By April 9, Curtis Flournoy, 32, was arrested after the Arson Task Force Detectives received information that helped them identify Flournoy as the suspect, police said. Flournoy was interviewed by ATF detectives and then transferred to the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and charged with using incendiary material to burn a commercial building, felony breaking and entering, ethnic intimidation, and anonymous or threatening letters, according to an announcement from CMPD.
The GoFundMe page (gofundme.com/central-market)set up April 8, had collected around $555 of the target of $2,500, to repair the fire damage. It also published the letter left by the alleged suspect which read —
Our newly elected president Donald Trump is our nation builder for white America. You all know that, we want our country back on the right track. We need to get rid of Muslims, Indians and all immigrants. Specially (sic), we don’t want business run by refugees and immigrant any more(sic).
We are ready to wake up some of our great state including North Carolina and we will take care of the country. Immigrants and refugee are taking our job, doing our business and leaving us standard(sic). So, you are not allowed to do business any more(sic).
We know you are one and many of other immigrant doing business here. This is our warning. Leave the business and go back where you came from.
If you don’t follow this warning then we are not responsible for the torture starting now.
God Bless America… … … …White America”
The GoFundMe page is set up by Eric Hovind, who describes himself as a “volunteer” and he says, ” Lets show Mr. Dhimal what this country TRULY thinks of its immigrants.
Just this March 2, an Indian convenience store owner, Harnish Patel, 43, was shot to death in his own driveway at night as he got out of his car to go into his home in Lancaster County. That murder is still being investigated.
The Observer also mentioned a Charlotte, N.C. woman of Pakistani descent, reporting in mid-March, that a man pulled a gun on her in the University City area, as she was breast feeding her baby in a parked car. She rushed for help to a nearby Indian store but the man sped away.