Police say Ken Walker's North Tonawanda home was intentionally set on fire by his neighbor. Walker is a volunteer firefighter and his neighbor, Matthew Jurado, is a former firefighter.
Jurado is facing second degree felony arson charges after police say he set Walker's home on fire Wednesday afternoon. Walker also received a racist threat in his mailbox on Monday. He is the only black firefighter in North Tonawanda. Investigators are still working to determine who wrote that letter.
Residents and neighbors gathered together Friday afternoon to support Walker and speak out against racism and violence in their community. About 35 people marched for an hour, down two miles of Oliver St. to Walker's burned home.
Marchers finishing up in front of firefighter Ken Walker's burned apartment in North Tonawanda. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/fP7fmYp1rw
— Josh Bazan (@JoshBazan) August 5, 2016
Jason Rochevot has never met Walker, but he organized the march to show the firefighter the entire community is behind him.
"I think it needs to be known that the community is very accepting and we love our neighbors," he said.
Others that attended the march hoped it would help show Western New York that not everyone in North Tonawanda holds those type of views.
"This one bad character does not represent North Tonawanda," Dennis Kessinger said. He's also a volunteer firefighter. "North Tonawanda is a small community. We kind of stick to ourselves and keep ourselves out of trouble. And for the most part, we're there for one another."
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Walker family. By Friday evening it had raised more than $120,000.
Walker's fire company is organizing a clothing drive for Sunday, August 7. From 10-2pm, Gratwick Hose will be accepting clothes, toys and toiletries for Walker's family. The drive will be at 110 Ward Rd, North Tonawanda.
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