A North Tonawanda, N.Y., volunteer firefighter who was threatened by a racist letter found in his mailbox Monday lost everything in a fire at his home Wednesday morning, WGRZ reports.
Kenneth Walker and his family are safe, but two cats died in the fire damage, and the family lost all their possessions.
According to the report, it is not immediately clear how the fire started.
"I'm just shocked," Kathy Carr, a local business owner, told the station. "The people in North Tonawanda would never do something like this, so I'll find this interesting to see who the suspect is. I hope they prosecute to the full extent of the law."
Tensions were already high after Walker, a volunteer firefighter in the city, received a hateful and threatening letter in his mailbox Monday, KHOU reports.
"[N—gers] are not allowed to be firefighters. No one wants you in this city," the note read.
The letter then went on to threaten Walker, the city's only black firefighter, to resign from his position or "you will regret it."
The 28-year-old Walker was disturbed by the incident.
"It shocked me," Walker said. "I didn't think that type of thing went on nowadays."
Walker was home with his wife and two young children at the time that the letter, which was not in an envelope, was left in the mailbox.
KHOU reports that the FBI is looking into the case, having received a copy of the note left at the residence.
Walker said that in his two years of being a volunteer firefighter, he had never had any issues with his colleagues or the public.
According to the report, the department gave Walker the option to stop responding to calls if he did not feel safe, but he agreed to continue working as a volunteer.
"There's no room for anything like this. I want this taken to the fullest extent, and whatever level they want this taken to, I want it taken to," Fire Chief Joseph Sikora told the news station.
"I'm here to help people," Walker told KHOU earlier this week. "That's what I do, and it's sad that that person [who sent the note] can't deal with that."
At the time, Walker admitted that he was scared because of his family, but he said that he was not going to be intimidated by the incident.
"I'm not going to change my habits of what I've been doing. I'm still going to be helpful in the community. I'm going to go on calls, and hopefully this is just an isolated incident, and if it turns out to be more, I'm sure that and confident that the North Tonawanda Police Department will handle it," he said.
Sikora told the Buffalo News that Walker was a "good guy, a good worker."
“This is something I never thought I would have to deal with as a fire chief, and it really has got me upset. I couldn’t apologize enough. We’ll help him any way we can," Sikora added. “I’m appalled by it. It’s totally unacceptable."
Even the mayor got involved in the issue prior to the fire, opening the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night by addressing the note.
“Needless to say, we are appalled by this situation as it does not represent what the city of North Tonawanda stands for,” Mayor Arthur Pappas said, according to the Buffalo News. “I as mayor and the Common Council will not tolerate this type of behavior in our community. Any threats against our police, fire or other personnel are taken very seriously, as it is for all of our citizens.”