Business owners dissatisfied with APD - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Business owners dissatisfied with APD

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April 4, 2006

Albany -- A group of Northwest Albany business owners are joining together to fight crime in their shopping center. Unsatisfied with the Police Investigation, the business owners are offering a reward to find out who torched one of their vans last month.

On March 19th at 8:00PM, two men soaked the Ole Times Country Buffet van with a chemical, then set it on fire. Surveillance video provided by Funvilla Daycare shows the van bursting into flames.

This happened just hours after another car at Lowe's on North Westover was torched much the same way.

Forty-four-year-old Joe Holden was arrested for the arson at the Ole Times Buffet, but no other arrests have been made. Now after three weeks, the business owners say they have waited long enough for the Police to move forward.

About a dozen business owners from the Village Green Shopping center are joining together to fight crime. Unsatisfied with the Police Investigation, the business owners are offering a reward to find out all the people involved in torching the Ole Times van.

The Village Green shopping center business owners have come together to solve this arson case, because they don't think the Police will.

B. J. Fletcher, the manager of the Ole Times Country Buffet, said, "From what I got yesterday, the investigation is basically closed."

By long study of the surveillance video, the dozen business owners think the four people who drive up in a Ford Pickup truck were also part of the arson. "We've got proof that there was more than just one person involved in this incident," said Fletcher.

You can see the van explode in flames in the surveillance video. Minutes after the fire truck arrives, four people get back in that Ford Truck and drive slowly away. "I feel like the people that was in that truck were every bit as responsible as the people that put chemicals on my van," Fletcher said.

But Fletcher says when she talked to Investigators Monday, they did not seem to even know about the second truck, or have watched the surveillance video. Fletcher said, "When I asked about the truck, gee, do you have a tag number?"

Fletcher has met with the family of the man charged with arson, Joe Holden, and thinks he was put up to setting the van on fire by the four people who watched. "If they are just going to close the books on one person, what's gonna stop this from happening again?" asked Fletcher.

So now the business owners say they are offering a one thousand dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of all the people involved in the arson. "I guess I'm from the old school where money will talk."

The business owners have no idea why someone would torch her van. "Could be somebody I fired six months ago thinks it was cute. Could be gang related. It could have been just a drive by," Fletcher said.

But she and the other business owners are putting their own reward money up, to find out who burned their van, and bring all the people involved to justice.

If you have any information about the people who set the Ole Times Country Buffet Van on fire, call the District Attorney's office or the restaurant.

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