Man accused of torching of firefighter's home

Police say suspect is former firefighter
Posted at 4:11 PM, Aug 03, 2016

A suspect is under arrest, accused of torching the home of a North Tonawanda firefighter.

Matthew Jurado, a former firefighter and neighbor of Kenneth Walker, was taken into custody Thursday night. Walker and his family are homeless after flames tore through his apartment in North Tonawanda Wednesday afternoon.

However, police say the 39-year-old has not admitted to sending a racist note that was delivered to Walker's home on Monday. The typed letter repeatedly called Walker the "n-word" and demanded he resign from the fire department.

"I'm not going to be intimidated," Walker said. "I'm not at this point going to resign from doing my job. I'm going to take a long hard look at the situation and see what's best for my family and the end result may be to resign or transfer to a different company, but as of now I'm going to stand fast and see what happens."

"That was everything that we owned and we pretty much have to start all over," he said. "We have two young kids and trying to explain to our 4-year-old that we have to move and go to a different house it's going to be a change for her, for us."

The Walkers spent time Wednesday picking up the pieces, taking things that were still salvageable from the home.

The community has been coming out to donate food, clothing and money. A Go Fund Me Accounthas already raised thousands of dollars.

The FBI released the following statement to 7 Eyewitness News:

"The FBI has received a copy of the note left at Mr. Walker’s residence and we were notified of the fire that occurred there today.  Our office is conducting a review to determine what investigative steps are indicated under FBI policy with regard to federal jurisdiction in this matter."

"I've been in the department 26 years, and we've never had any issues whatsoever remotely close to this situation. So, it's extremely surprising," said North Tonawanda Fire Chief Joseph Sikora when asked about the letter. 

Walker is still with the department. He told 7 Eyewitness News he isn't going to let the threat change how he lives his life. 

Jurado will be arraigned Friday morning in North Tonawanda court.