DECATUR, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The family that owns a popular Decatur coffee shop is speaking out after an alleged arson. A fire engulfed the interior of the store earlier this month. And police said a man is on the run after intentionally setting the blaze.
Investigators identified the suspect as Rickey Thomas, 28. There's a warrant out for his arrest on a first degree arson charge.
David Stickland, whose daughter owns the business, sat down with FOX 5's Marissa Mitchell Tuesday. He said he bought the store for his daughter four months ago, and it served as a new beginning for her after she recovered from brain tumors that overtook her life, changing the trajectory of her collegiate path. He said she is devastated by the turn of events. He also added Thomas worked at the store but was terminated three days before the fire.
"She is right now a wreck. We are trying to bring her through it. We are trying to tell her there is good, bad and ugly in the world but she is not doing good," Stickland told Mitchell.
Fire officials said smoke from the fire damaged businesses adjacent to Java Monkey. Java Monkey has been a staple in the downtown district for more than two decades.
Stickland hopes to have the store finished in time to reopen in the Spring. He said they will continue to host live entertainment at the venue which will be renamed the Stage at Java Monkey.
Meanwhile, Decatur Police urge anyone who knows where Thomas is to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 404-577-TIPS.