One year since a vol. firefighter's home was torched

1 Year Since Vol. Fireman's Home Was Torched

BUFFALO, N.Y. - It was one year ago when the only African-American volunteer firefighter in the city of North Tonawanda received a racist and threatening letter before his home was torched.

Ken Walker said there have been highs and lows over the last 12 months. He admits it still bothers him that a former neighbor and member of the Gratwick Volunteer Fire Company was responsible for setting his home on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured.

One day before the fire, Walker received a letter in his mailbox, using the "N-word" and stating that he should resign from the fire department or "regret it."

Ironically, an email was sent to the WGRZ-TV tipline from a Matt Jurado. He wrote, "My friend Ken Walker is the only African-American received a threatening letter."

Jurado was arrested and is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for arson.

Walker said at this time he can't  forgive Jurado.

Western New York and people across the country raised over $100,000.

"It truly has been eye-opening for me," said Walker.

While the incident cast a black eye on the city of North Tonawanda, Walker said "everyone in the department treated me as I was an equal.  I never had a perception that anyone in North Tonawanda was racist, from the fire department, I was always treated as an equal."

Walker currently volunteers with Tri-Community Ambulance and plans to join a local volunteer fire company in a few months.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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