Merseyside Police treating Anfield newsagent fire attack as a ‘hate crime’
By Helen Hunt, Liverpool Echo
Shopkeeper was verbally abused and is now in hospital after trying to put the fire out himself
A city newsagents was torched by thugs who verbally abused the shopkeeper before setting his shop on fire.
A police investigation is now underway after the arson attack on Saturday (June 8) night which has left Robinson News on Priory Road in Anfield badly damaged and put the 48-year-old shopkeeper in hospital.
Officers are treating the incident as a “hate crime” and say it might be linked to a fight between two customers in the shop earlier in the week which was reported in the ECHO on Thursday.
Residents said the store was “petrol bombed” but police say investigations are still underway to determine the cause of the blaze, although they confirm some sort of accelerant was used.
The shopkeeper is thought to have been injured after he went back into shop, trying to put out the fire. His hands and arms have been badly burned but his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
Two men are wanted in connection to the arson attack, both had their faces covered before going into the shop just before 9pm.
One resident said: “It is terrible, shocking. The shop is so badly damaged I hope it hasn’t put him out of business.”
Detectives investigating the incident want as many witnesses to come forward as possible.
DCI Andy O’Connor said: “Merseyside Police takes all forms of hate crime extremely seriously and I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and has any information to come forward. This kind of incident will not be tolerated and we must all work together to find those responsible.
“The investigation is in its early stages, and there are a number of lines of enquiry being examined at this time, one of which is the possibility that the arson may have some links to a fight inside the shop earlier this week between two customers.”
The shop has been significantly damaged by the fire. There is a flat above the shop which was occupied at the time but the resident managed to escape the fire unharmed.
Police were called out to the blaze by Merseyside Fire and Rescue.
The two men are described as being about 5ft 7in tall, wearing dark clothing.
The scene has been sealed for forensic examination by Merseyside Police and fire investigators and house-to-house enquiries are underway.
Police patrols have been stepped up in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to call detectives on 0151 777 4064 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.