Posted on September 10, 2004

Fire Investigation Involves Possible Hate Crime (Mich.), Sep. 9

(Coldwater)—Authorities in Coldwater are investigating a fire where two men who police think may have started that blaze but who claim they were the victims of a hate crime.

The incident started Wednesday morning when a business in the downtown area burned down after an explosion.

About 45 minutes later, two severely burned men flagged down a police officer near Jackson.

The two men are of Arab descent and are from the Detroit area. They told police they were driving around with two women they met at a bar in Jackson when the women threw something on them and started them on fire.

Meanwhile, a witness in Coldwater says a man left the burning building with his clothes on fire then got into a car with another man.

Police now think the claim of ethnic intimidation was a hoax and say the two men are suspects in the building fire.