Coffee shop owner has message of forgiveness after arson

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by DEBORAH FELDMAN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on October 30, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 30 at 12:35 PM

SEATTLE - The owner of one of the Greenwood businesses destroyed by fire last week says he is shocked by the news that the fire was deliberately set.

"When you find out its set at your place, it's sort of a double shock," said Pastor Randy Rowland.

He watched in dismay on Oct. 23 as flames consumed four businesses including his church's non-profit coffee shop, the Green Bean Coffee House. It was open to anyone who needed a place to sit. It donated proceeds to a designated charity of the month.

Investigators say the fire was started at the coffee shop.

"We have no enemies we know of. We've never had any threats. It's sad. It's shocking. It's disappointing," said Rowland.

Rowland says the Greenwood community is rallying around the families that owned and operated the businesses in the block, including three small restaurants - C.C. Teriyaki, Szechuan Bistro and Pho Tic Tac. He hopes the end result of this arson is not just destruction, but growth.

"This is a great opportunity to grow together and learn what it means to forgive. You can excuse when somebody does something by accident. You say 'excuse me.' When somebody does something terrible, it's inexcusable, but you learn to forgive," said Rowland.

Investigators put fire damage at $2 million. The investigation has been turned over to Seattle police.

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