Man accused of writing racist note, setting store on fire to face judge

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The man police said is seen in surveillance video setting an east Charlotte store on fire will face a judge for the first time Tuesday.

Charlotte authorities arrested 32-year-old Curtis Flournoy on Sunday in what they've described as a racially tinged arson attack on an immigrant-owned store specializing in goods from the Indian subcontinent.

Flournoy is accused of arson and committing a hate crime at Central Market on Albemarle Road Thursday night, and is charged with burning a building of trade, malicious damage by use of an incendiary material, felony breaking and entering, ethnic intimidation and anonymous or threatening letters.

(Curtis Flournoy)

Channel 9 obtained exclusive surveillance video that appears to show Flourney at an east Charlotte store. Police said the man in the video left a racist note, broke a window at the business and then set a fire.

(Click PLAY to watch surveillance video)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Friday that they're working with federal authorities to investigate the hate crime.

Officers responded Thursday night to the Central Market on Albemarle Road after receiving a report of a fire at the building.

The fire was under control by the time firefighters and police arrived, but officers noticed one of the door’s window panes had been smashed.

(Click PLAY to watch raw video from the scene)

A note was left at the scene near the door, according to police. The writer of the note said he or she did not want any refugee business owners in the area and threatened to torture the owner if the owner did not leave and go back to where he came from, police said.

The owner of the store, Kamal Dhimal, is a refugee from Bhutan, according to officials.

The person signed the letter, “White America.”

Dhimal said his heart sank when he got to the store and saw the note.

"There is no word to express how I am feeling," Dhimal said.

The Indian and Nepali market has been a staple in east Charlotte for years, but Dhimal said it doesn't feel like home after Thursday night's incident.

"It makes me scared for the refugee and immigration," Dhimal said.

But he said he is not deterred by the hatred, and his store's doors are open to everyone.

"We are stronger, if they are stronger, they will come in the daytime," Dhimal said

Surveillance video showed a black man who is about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds, with a short Afro and a goatee, according to officers.

Channel 9 found out that Flournoy has been arrested several times. He's been convicted on a child abuse charge in 2013, and then on a drug charge in 2015.

A judge placed him on probation both times.

(Click PLAY to watch Joe Bruno's Facebook Live from the scene)

BREAKING- police are investigating a hate crime and arson in east Charlotte WSOC-TV

Posted by Joe Bruno on Friday, April 7, 2017

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com: