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Watch: Kenosha business owner: ‘Everybody watched it burn to ashes’

Police stand near fires burning in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS)
August 31, 2020

Owners of a downtown business destroyed as unrest swept through the city following the shooting of Jacob Blake are seeking help to recoup what they lost.

On the night of the shooting, nearly a week ago, the family who owns Car Source — a longstanding car dealership — say dozens of vehicles in their lot were burned in a massive fire.

Charred scraps of metal and shattered glass littered the area, where other downtown buildings had been badly damaged nights before. Only a handful of vehicles in the lot remained unscathed.

Josie Rodriguez, a resident of a house adjacent to Car Source, recalled seeing what she described as a mob descend into the lot and begin smashing cars.

 

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“It was a terrifying time,” Rodriguez said. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, they’re coming here.’”

As she phoned 911, Rodriguez closely watched the unfolding events. Minutes later, a car was set ablaze.

Then, there was an explosion.

The blaze spread quickly from one vehicle to the next, she said.

“I’m talking flames licking the sky. They were so big. And you hear, ‘boom, boom, boom’ — explosion after explosion after explosion.”

Rodriguez said when she dialed 911 again, help did not come. Dispatchers told her it was not safe for firefighters to respond to the scene, she said, so she fled for the night.

Anmol Khindri, whose family owns Car Source, estimated the losses at over $2.5 million.

Khindri said police notified him of the damage, but feels little was done to prevent it.

“Everybody watched it burn to ashes,” he said. “Nobody did nothing about it — nothing.”

The morning following the fire, Rodriguez said she felt relieved that the worst had supposedly passed. Then, Car Source was hit again.

Now, with insurance providing no immediate relief, Khindri said he is at a loss for what to do next.

“I have a family to feed,” he said. “I have 20 other families who have worked for this business over the last eight or nine years.”

In the meantime, Car Source has organized a GoFundMe, which has raised more than $22,000 as of Sunday evening. The business aims to raise $500,000 in total.

Khindri also is calling for more protections for local businesses currently suffering from circumstances out of their control.

“It’s easy for the government to say, ‘All right, guys, you’re on your own. I’m sorry, your insurance doesn’t cover it. Oh, I’m sorry for your loss.’ No, that’s not an answer. This happened because they let it happen,” he said.

Rodriguez believes the public should apply their time and energy to uplifting the community, adding, “It is beautiful to see everyone supporting each other, but the damage is done, and the trauma is horrific.”

A link to Car Source’s GoFundMe page is available at www.gofundme.com/f/car-source-in-kenosha.

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© 2020 The Times