Matthew Jurado, 39, had recently been removed from the Gratwick Hose Volunteer Fire Co. when a suspicious fire broke out at the home of Kenneth Walker, the only black firefighter in Tonawanda, N.Y. Two days before the incident, Walker had received a racist and threatening letter in his mailbox, NBC News reports.
According to the news station, the note read, "No one wants you in this city. You have until the end of the week to resign your position or you will regret it." The letter also began with the use of the n-word and said that African Americans "are not allowed to be firefighters."
Jurado admitted to starting the fire, but he denied sending the letter, according to the report.
Walker, his wife, and their two daughters were not home when the fire broke out. He was notified at work and later said that he and his family had lost everything, including the lives of their two cats, NBC reports.
"It's sad that someone is so offended by my presence that they feel the need to burn my house down, if that indeed is what occurred," Walker said at a news conference.
A GoFundMe account was set up to support Walker and his family, and as of Friday, almost $115,000 was raised, only $5,000 short of the $120,000 goal.
Read more at NBC News.