Fire damages market that was scene of recent shooting - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Fire damages market that was scene of recent shooting

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Police and fire crews responded to a convenience store fire early Thursday morning at a business that's been in the headlines plenty over the past week.

Firefighters received the call just after 1:00 a.m. to respond to a fire at the Watkins Market in the 1000 block of North Watkins Street.

When they arrived on scene, they saw light smoke coming from the back of the building.

The fire did damage parts of the store.  Crews at this time are still investigating and officials are not saying if the fire had any connection to recent events surrounding the convenience store.        

Those events started on New Year's Day, store clerk Yah-ya Murshed got into an argument with a customer at the store.  An attorney for Murshed tells Action News 5 Murshed was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed that customer.

Shortly after that deadly shooting, a car was also set on fire outside the store, but authorities have yet to indicate whether they believe there's any connection between the incidents.

However, other members of the community believe shooting has launched a conflict between African American consumers and foreign business owners.

"Every other race of people come into our community, opens up every kind of store, and they get black money, but they don't respect the black people," Jmalo Torriel of Brothas Keepa said Thursday.

Brothas Keepa, a community outreach group, recently sent out an email that includes a derogatory discussion full of racial slurs toward store owner Murshed.

Jmalo Torriel is with a community outreach group called Brothas Keepa.  The group recently sent out an email that includes a derogatory discussion full of racial slurs toward store owner Murshed.   

It reads, "The hood says that the ----- thought the brother stole some chips and they exchanged words. The brother went outside to his car and the ----- came out the store behind him and shot him. the only good news is that someone took it upon themself not to let this go unpunished, the -----'s truck was blown up shortly after. this is a perfect example of why we need to run these -----, -----, -----, -----, and ----- out of our hoods!!"

Torriel said he doesn't know who wrote the statement.   

"The comments on here are copied and pasted...From whoever wrote the whole story in all," he said.

Torriel said he doesn't condone the violent reaction to Stevenson's shooting, but he understands the outrage. 

"I can't say I know who did it," he said. "I didn't even know the store burned down, but there comes a time though when the prey has to become the predator in order to survive, and I guess that's how this person felt."

The Watkins Market did not open Thursday.  Memphis fire investigators said there is no one in custody at this time for deliberately setting the store on fire.

Click here to send an email to Anna Marie Hartman.

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