BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Gadsden Fire Chief Stephen Carroll suspects a fire that broke out at RJT and More, a combination detail shop and barbershop owned by a local Black Lives Matter activist, is a case of arson.
Business owner Jerome Gunn was at his home in Blount County when the fire broke out Wednesday night. No one was at the business but he says workers at a nearby fast food business heard an explosion.
According to Fire Chief Carroll it appears that the fire was intentionally set. Gunn says someone may have thrown some type of incendiary device into the building’s back door.
“It looked like an explosive, looks like something blew up. Like somebody came in the back door and just threw something, just blew up the whole back. So, that’s what it looked like to me,” Gunn told WBRC.
The fire broke out just one day after Gunn and a group of Black Lives Matter Gadsden members, held a small protest at the Confederate Emma Sansom statue. They demanded the city take it down.
Gunn says he thinks the fire is related to that protest.
He says they’ve used his business to host Black Lives Matter Gadsden meetings and organize a number of protests in the Gadsden area.
Gunn says he also does other things to help people in the community, like renting out hotel rooms for displaced tornado victims from Jacksonville, as well as residents whose apartments at East Gadsden’s Pine Ridge Apartments were destroyed in a fire last month.