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Court hearing for suspect in arson at immigrant-owned store

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man charged in what police described as a racially tinged arson attack on an immigrant-owned store is facing an initial court appearance this week.

Mecklenburg County court officials said the hearing is scheduled Tuesday afternoon for 32-year-old Curtis Flournoy, a black man who faces several charges, including ethnic intimidation and burning a commercial building.

The fire set Thursday at Central Market, which sells goods from the Indian subcontinent, burned itself out, and a window was broken with a rock. No one was injured, and authorities said a threatening note was left on the scene attributed to “White America.”

The note complained about refugee business owners, the note said. The note “stated the suspect did not want any refugee business owners and that they would torture the owner if they did not leave and go back to where they came from,” police said in a news release Sunday.

Flournoy has a court record that includes misdemeanor child abuse, for which he was sentenced to probation. Last year, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of damage to real property from a case dating back to 2014, online court records show.

Online records indicate Flournoy remained behind bars Monday, a day after his arrest. It wasn’t clear if he has an attorney.

The store’s owner, Kamal Dhimal, is from Bhutan and also has lived in Nepal. Dhimel came to the U.S. in 2010 and opened Central Market four years later, saying he became a U.S. citizen last year. The store sells goods from Nepal, India and Pakistan, among other countries.

Dhimel didn’t respond to an email Monday from The Associated Press. However, last week he told WSOC-TV that 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.

In video obtained by WSOC-TV, a man is seen setting a fire in two places along the building, including the door.

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