Investigators Release Video of Pet World Arson Suspect
MCALLEN – McAllen fire investigators need help in identifying the person who set a popular pet shop on fire.
Flames forced Exotic Tropical Pet World employees to get out of their beds. They needed to save the animals stuck inside the building.
Investigators said the person caught on a surveillance video caused the business to close.
“When the fire happened, it took the meters, so we didn’t have electricity. Most of our animals need water, food. We need to clean, disinfect. We had to do it out of a bucket,” one of the employees said.
Heavy water damage in the store moved them out.
“It’s been difficult, like adapting to all these changes and knowing that we had to move locations and build…from bottom again to get the company going. It’s just extremely difficult,” he said.
The employee, whose identity wanted to remain hidden, said they had to sell all of their animals after the fire. They also had to find another store front for their business. He said most importantly, they’ve had to look over their shoulders in fear of retaliation.
“Knowing that even this guy, being on the loose, we feel insecure because what if they know who we are, or our security or families,” he said.
McAllen Fire Marshals started their investigation in September. It took four months for McAllen Fire Capt. Hector Bennett to release the surveillance video of the suspect.
“We’re still conducting some interviews, still trying to collect more surveillance data. We are also, part of the delay was, we sent some of the videos to the FBI to see if they could enhance the video,” he explained.
Bennett said arson cases are the most difficult to solve.
“Interview, collect data and count on the public for leads, as well, and has the information comes in or we gather information. It takes us to the next clue and the next lead. We keep going on that same process until, hopefully, we can make an arrest,” he said.
The employee hopes fire marshals can find the suspect.
“Hopefully, they do catch this guy or somebody recognizes the guy and we get a little bit more peace of mind,” he said.
The Pet World will continue to rebuild their store and wait for justice.
Pet store owners said they are looking to open a new place in the future.
Anyone with information about the case can call McAllen Crime Stoppers at (956) 687-8477.
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