Buffalo's Only Black Firefighter Has House Burnt Down

The family of Kenneth Walker, North Tonawanda’s only black firefighter, whose home was burned down Wednesday in what was feared to be a racially motivated attack, was stunned to learn that a neighbor and fellow former firefighter was arrested for the arson.

They were also shocked when they realized that the suspect – identified as Matthew Jurado, 39, who lives right across Oliver Street from them – had been at the scene of Wednesday’s fire, according to Robert Sands, Kenneth Walker’s uncle.

“I believe I talked with him,” Sands said. “His girlfriend was there. It’s really mindboggling.”

He said his nephew “is really relieved, 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.”

Jurado had been let go from Live Hose Company No. 4, a volunteer fire company, in July, Pappas said. Fire officials said Jurado was let go because he didn’t have the proper training.

Jurado seemed to be passionate about being a firefighter. His Facebook feed is filled with photos of himself in turnout gear with the letters NTFD across the back. He has also posted several firefighter-themed slogans, like “I fight what you fear” and “100% pure firefighter.” Workers at a nearby convenience store said they often saw him wearing volunteer firefighter T-shirts and carrying a walkie-talkie.

Police said at the press conference that Jurado acknowledged setting the fire but claimed someone else wrote an anonymous, racist and threatening letter to Walker Monday. The letter, which used racist slurs, demanded that Walker resign as a firefighter. Jurado gave investigators the name of a person he said wrote that letter, but they said they are looking into the possibility that Jurado wrote the letter.

Family knew suspect in arson of black firefighter’s North Tonawanda home - City & Region - The Buffalo News
That's just messed up.
probably mental illness.

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