Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a Minnesota man they say firebombed a Somali restaurant in Grand Forks.
Still at large as of Sunday was Matthew W. Gust, 25, of East Grand Forks, police said.
Around 2 a.m. Tuesday, firefighters responded to Juba restaurant in the 2000 block of S. Washington Street and put out the blaze within 20 minutes.
No one was hurt by the fire inside Juba Coffee House and Restaurant, and damage was estimated at $90,000. Authorities quickly determined that the fire’s origin was suspicious.
Police have yet to address a motive behind the arson, but it occurred it occurred days after a Nazi-style symbol was painted on the restaurant exterior above the words “go home.” The FBI is also investigating the incident.
Gust was charged Friday in Grand Forks District Court with arson. Prosecutors allege that a 40-ounce beer bottle with gasoline was thrown through the restaurant’s window.
On Thursday, police released a clip from video surveillance that shows a suspect approaching the front of Juba and breaking the glass.
“It is likely that the suspect may have suffered an injury or injuries during the commission of this act,” police said in a statement accompanying the video clip’s release. “The injury or injuries most likely happened to the right hand or arm, but may have occurred elsewhere as well.
Late last week, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement that the targeting of the restaurant “fits a pattern of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community since the Paris attacks, the San Bernardino killings and anti-Muslim rhetoric by public figures like Donald Trump.”
Gust’s criminal history includes pleading guilty to charges of terrorizing, simple assault and preventing arrest, all felonies, for threatening staff at Romantix, an adult entertainment store in downtown Grand Forks, and assaulting a police officer in 2011, according to the Grand Forks Herald.