A bizarre crime caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to a popular neighborhood clothing shop when a fire ravaged the storefront. Now, the owner and police want to talk to a man who’s seen walking in and out of the shop around the time the fire was set.
Inside the Discovery Clothing Company store in Avondale Friday, damage clean-up was still underway.
The popular store in the 3300 block of West Belmont Avenue has been forced to close after being targeted by an arsonist.
"I was shocked," former neighbor Michelle Passariello said. "This stores been here since I’ve lived in the city. I’ve been here for about 10 years now."
The store owner said Wednesday around 7:45 p.m. a man walked in and set fire to a rack of clothing near the rear of the store.
The blaze quickly spread and filled the clothing shop with smoke, causing between $500,000 and $750,000 in damage. No one was injured.
“Why would somebody do that?" shopper Delilah Fernandez said. "That’s really spiteful. Why would you come into a store and start burning things down? What did these people ever do to you?"
Now, police are calling the man seen in security video a person of interest. He can be seen walking into the store before the fire is set and then quickly walking out.
Exasperated customers like Jafound the doors locked Friday.
Crews say it could be four to six weeks before the store can reopen.
“Somebody decided to do something they probably thought was funny or just for no reason whatsoever," Passariello said. "I just think it’s senseless."
Police are calling the fire aggravated arson. Meanwhile, the owners have offered a $5,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.