Flagstaff police are investigating a potential hate crime after a downtown business owned by an Iraqi-American was vandalized with Nazi symbols early Tuesday morning.
Maktoob Hookah Lounge, located at 107 N. San Francisco Street in Heritage Square, was broken into by an unknown assailant who spray-painted the walls and windows with black swastikas, broke mirrors in the bathroom and burned the owner's spare clothes and paperwork.
The burnt clothing and files caused smoke to fill the business, alerting the lounge's neighbors, who contacted the fire department. Law enforcement is investigating the incident as an arson.
Money was also stolen from the cash register, according to Maktoob’s owner Aaron Jasim.
Jasim has said he has received multiple death threats, including a letter that reads “This is not over terorist,” with the word terrorist spelled incorrectly.
Flagstaff Police are in possession of the note and are looking for surveillance camera footage around the downtown area that might lead to a suspect.
Maktoob does not have security cameras.
Jasim told police that a man who came to his lounge last week is a potential suspect.
According to Jasim the man was inappropriately accosting women in the lounge and when Jasim kicked him out he began to call him a terrorist.
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The man did not give his name when he visited the lounge.
Jasim was eating breakfast at the coffee shop Rendezvous when the incident occurred.
"I saw smoke near Shift and went to go check it out and realized it was my shop." Jasim said, referring to the restaurant he shares a building with.
Jasim said the suspect might have entered the building by picking the lock since there was no sign of forced entry such as a broken door or window.
Phyllis Hogan, owner of Winter Sun Trading Company, said the incident at Maktoob is not typical of Flagstaff.
"This is just devastating," Hogan said. "I have never seen anything like this since I moved here and this is not the type of environment I want my grandkids to grow up in."
Members of the community are looking to help fix the Hookah Lounge. A Gofundme account created by James R. Holeman has received $2,000 out of its $1,000 goal and the donation window is now closed.
The building's owner John Running did not wish to comment about the incident.
Police declined to give more details on the incident, citing an ongoing investigation.