ELKHART — Cueramaro Supermarket on Lusher Avenue burned on Friday, Aug. 9, and the owners say they feel certain they know who set it ablaze.
They say a homeless man had threatened the store earlier on Aug. 9 after staff refused to give him money.
Surveillance footage shows a man, whom the owners say they believe to be the same person, carrying cardboard to the back door of the store, where the fire started, hours later.
According to Ezequiel Rodriguez, who is the owners’ son, the homeless man would regularly ask Rodriguez’s father for money, which the father would give him. But on the day of the fire, the owner was away, and staff told the man they didn’t have the authority to give him money of behalf of the store.
The man then made allegedly threatened to burn down the store.
The owner had been helping the man with food and money for a couple of months, and the two even shared a birthday, said Rodriquez. On that day, his father had given the man a birthday cake and asked people to pitch in some cash, which resulted in a gift of $80.
Though the building appears unharmed from the front, the inside has suffered damage from the fire and the water that was used to put it out. According to Rodriquez, the roof will need to be repaired or replaced.
Meanwhile, the supermarket is closed.
Rodriquez expects it to open in about five months. He said insurance will help the family get through the expenses and the loss of income until then.
Elkhart police say the case remains under investigation. For the same reason, the department did not want to comment on who might or might not be a suspect of arson.
According Elkhart Fire Department division chief for fire prevention, Aaron Gerber, the damage from the flames was not extensive, but smoke and water created damage throughout the building. He would not comment on the cause of the fire.
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