Man charged with arson at Somali-owned restaurant arrested in Minnesota


The man charged with intentionally setting a Somali-owned restaurant in Grand Forks on fire last week has been arrested in Minnesota.

Matthew Gust, 25, was taken into custody in Polk County, Minnesota, the Grand Forks Herald and The Associated Press report. He was charged Friday with arson after investigators say he threw a 40-ounce beer bottle filled with gasoline through the window of the Juba Coffee House and Restaurant around 2 a.m. Dec. 8.

Gust was booked into the Northwest Regional Corrections Center in Crookston, Minnesota, early Tuesday morning on a fugitive from justice charge, the Grand Forks Herald notes.

Police have not released a possible motive for the crime, which did roughly $90,000 worth of damage to the restaurant. However, many in the community are calling it a hate crime. The fire occurred days after the restaurant’s Somali-American owners found it vandalized with graffiti including the words “go home” and a symbol used in Nazi Germany.

Police are investigating whether the incident is connected to the fire, and the FBI has confirmed it is investigating to determine if any federal laws were broken.

In the days following the fire, community members have shown support for both the restaurant owners and the Somali community in the area. An online fundraising campaign for Juba has received more than 500 donations and has surpassed its $20,000 fundraising goal.

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