Hollyland Judaica in Hollywood was burnt down by arsonists last wednesday night
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Police are investigating a suspected case of arson at a South Florida bookstore.
The fire broke out inside the Holyland Judaica store near 56th Avenue and Stirling Road, early Thursday morning.
Hollywood Fire Rescue responded to the scene of the fire. Smoke seeped into neighboring businesses, but crews were able to extinguish the flames before they could spread to the adjacent businesses. "We're lucky that the damage here is not so big," said Micha Edrei, a chef at a business near the bookstore.
The bookstore sustained major interior damage, and many of the holy books and other items inside the store were destroyed in the fire. "I'm shocked when I see it. It's really a disaster here," said Moshe Shaltiel, a friend of the book store's owner.
According to officials, they are sure that the fire was intentionally set.
Surveillance cameras in the area captured several people running from the rear of the store before the fire began, and it appeared as though someone kicked in the back door of the business. Neighboring business owner Yossi Gopin said, "They found that right before the fire started, two people ran out of the back doors."
"They broke in from here," Shaltiel said. "They probably put the fire there and ran away."
Authorities are investigating whether or not the bookstore arson was a hate crime. "It goes to show you that you don't know what's going to happen from one day to the next," said Gopin. "You just wake up one morning, and your entire life that you've been working on for 20 years is shattered."
Investigators hope to process the surveillance video within the next few days.
If you have any information on this arson, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.