Police video shows prelude to fire at Somali-owned shop in Grand Forks


A video released by Grand Forks police shows a suspect breaking a window at Juba Coffee House and Restaurant soon before the shop was burned down early Tuesday.

Police say their investigation is "in its infancy" but want to hear from anyone who can help identify suspects or has information about the fire, which was found to be intentionally set.


Police note the suspect they're looking for may have an injured right hand or arm.

The 2 a.m. fire occurred days after its Somali-American owners found the restaurant 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.


Trey Carmona told the Grand Forks Herald he was passing by Juba when the fire broke out and says he heard a "tiny explosion" before smoke that smelled like burning rubber or plastic began pouring out of the building. Carmona told the Herald he did not see anyone near the shop at the time.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for the FBI to investigate the burning of Juba as a hate crime.

The Herald reports a Grand Forks police lieutenant says investigators do not want to make the assumption that it was a hate crime.

Support for the owners

Hours after the fire caused an estimated $90,000 in damage to Juba, Grand Forks Mayor Michael R. Brown released a statement of support for the shop's owners, saying "As a community, we come to the aid of our friends and neighbors who are hurting and we rally around them. It is part of who we are and we will do it again."

The Herald says about 100 people – some of them with the Global Friends Coalition – gathered outside Juba Tuesday evening to show support for the owners.

An online fundraising campaign for Juba had received more than 400 donations the day after it started and was on the verge of reaching its $16,000 goal.

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