The FBI is investigating a Wichita, Kansa restaurant fire as a hate crime, after concluding that a blaze that tore through Jordanian restaurant Petra was deliberately lit.
Fire destroyed the restaurant last Wednesday, but a key clue for investigators was some graffiti left on an unburned storage unit behind the restaurant, which read “go back,” according to US News. Restaurant owner Ranya Taha told Fox News that this was particularly upsetting.
“It was two words that have a lot of hate in it.”
There’s a $5,000 reward from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for information about the fire.
Meanwhile, some Wichitans rallied around Petra’s owners, longtime Wichita residents Ranya Taha and Bashar Mahanweh, a couple from Syria and Jordan who opened the restaurant in April this year. A prayer vigil was held after the fire, and a crowdsourcing effort from their friends has raised just under $2,000 to help the couple reopen elsewhere.
A local soup restaurant will also donate some profits to Taha and Mahanweh, and a local newspaper even featured a cartoon with the Wichita city flag embracing the restaurant owners.
• Wichita restaurant burning being investigated as a hate crime [Fox News]
• Officials: Fire at Middle Eastern Restaurant Was Intentional [US News]
• Rebuild Petra Restaurant After Fire [LaunchGood]