Former firefighter arraigned for torching home

Posted at 10:55 AM, Aug 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 14:57:27-04

The North Tonawanda man accused of setting a volunteer firefighter's house on fire appeared in front of a judge Friday morning.

Matthew Jurado pleaded not guilty to felony arson in North Tonawanda court.  He is being held at the Niagara County Jail on $50,000 bond.  

Jurado was arrested around 7:00 p.m. Thursday.  Police say he admitted to setting fire to volunteer firefighter Ken Walker's Oliver Street apartment Wednesday afternoon.

Police say Jurado is a former firefighter from a different department, and was upset about his recent removal from his department.  Fire officials say Jurado was removed from his volunteer role because he didn't meet the necessary training requirements.  Police also say Jurado was upset about something that related to Ken Walker, although they would not elaborate on what that was.

Jurado lives across the street from Walker.

Walker, a volunteer firefighter for Gratwick Hose Company, initially received a note with racist overtones Monday.  The note was found folded in his mailbox.  It explained he needed to leave the department or "he would regret it."

Police say Jurado did not admit to writing that note.  However, police say Jurado gave them a name of the person who may be responsible.

"He's now arraigned.  It's a relief to the community, it's a relief to the Walker family and now they've been issued an order of protection.  Hopefully they'll be able to breathe a little easier," said North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas. 

That order of protection was issued by the judge who arraigned Jurado on Friday.  The order of protection was for Walker and his wife.  In court, Jurado verbally agreed not to contact the Walker family.

Jurado had nothing to say to 7 Eyewitness News reporter Thuy Lan Nugyen when he left the courthouse.

He will have an attorney appointed in another court appearance set for August 11.