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Warrant issued for man accused of starting Java Monkey fire

Business Crime and public safety Decatur Food

Warrant issued for man accused of starting Java Monkey fire


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Rickey Hodges Thomas. Photo provided by Decatur Police

This story has been updated. 

Decatur Police have confirmed that arson is the suspected cause of the Nov. 11 fire at Java Monkey.

“Rickey Hodges Thomas is currently wanted for arson in the first degree in reference to an arson that occurred at Java Monkey on November 11, 2018,” Lt. Jennifer Ross said. “Thomas is 28-years-old, approximately 5’10” and 162 lbs. If you have information regarding the whereabouts of Rickey Hodges Thomas, please contact Captain Rice, Arson Investigator, of the Decatur Fire Department at [email protected] or 678/553-6587 or contact Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta at 404 577-Tips (8477) and remain anonymous.”

The owner of Java Monkey confirmed to Decaturish that Thomas was an employee of the coffee shop and had been fired days before the incident.

According to the arrest warrant, Java Monkey had surveillance video showing a male suspect at the back of the building. He had a stick that looked like a broom handle, the warrant says. The owner was able to identify him. Investigators discovered a broken back window. According to the warrant, after Thomas was fired he allegedly began making harassing phone calls and allegedly told several people he intended to burn the place down.

The coffee shop has been a Decatur staple for over 25 years. The fire torched the wine bar and patio area.

In a Facebook post, Java Monkey implied that someone intentionally starting the fire was something on the investigators’ radar. Decatur fire investigators are receiving assistance from DeKalb County Fire and Rescue and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The fire damaged nearby businesses Tres Jolie, Noodle and Fresh to Order. It will likely be months before Java Monkey reopens.

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