GBI investigates fire and racial slurs - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GBI investigates fire and racial slurs

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June 9, 2003

Ashburn- This is what's left of the Burwell's Madison Avenue home - A house destroyed by fire and a yard now considered a crime scene.

"Officers arrived on the scene to find the house was on fire. They contacted me, and at that point I contacted the GBI and the state fire marshall and it's been turned over the them at this time," explains Ashburn Police Chief, Benjamin Sumner.

Not only was the house set on fire, but racial slurs were painted on several places around the home.

"If they ask if I'm mad, yeah, I'm mad because this is all I have here. I got a little five year old girl. Toys to anybody else may not mean anything, but they mean the world to here. Pictures, files all that's destroyed," says Patrick Burwell.

"I'm just glad my family was safe, my child was safe because we're normally in there and no telling what would have happened and I just thank God that He was watching over us," adds Shanda Burwell.

Now the family will have to try to put their life back together, with thoughts of the hateful words in the back of their minds.

"If you kill me tonight I'm still going to go out like a champ because I'm standing up for what I believe in and I believe all of us were created equal, and you may not like me, but you can respect me for who I am," exclaims Patrick Burwell.

This is the second blaze the family has suffered in almost three years. Wiring in the kitchen was to blame for the first. After the smoke cleared Saturday messages of hate and dozens of questions are all that remained.

If you have any information about the fire call the Ashburn police department at 229-567-2323.

Posted at 9:40 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com