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Owner of burnt Kenosha car lot says riots caused $2.5M in damages

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ATF ARSON POI
The ATF is looking for several persons of interest after three nights of rioting in Kenosha that included widespread arson.

KENOSHA (WKOW) -- With each step Anmol Khindri takes at what's left of Car Source Pre-Owned Vehicles, he hears the crackle of broken glass. Surveying the lot, which contains the shells of more than two-dozen burned out cars, Khindri can only describe the sight as "heartbreaking."

"This business, it's not just a business," Khindri said. "It was, we built, from the ground up. We started off with seven cars. We built it car by car, like tile by tile."

Khindri said his family -- he, his parents and his brother -- bought the business in 2013. Over time, he said they made additions when they could afford to, such as a new office, pole lights and an asphalt surface.

Khindri said his brother told him about the incident where Kenosha Police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back on their way home from work the night of the shooting. Khindri said he saw cars heading into town, some of the drivers blowing through red lights, but did not think his or any other business was in danger.

On each of the next two nights, however, rioters set fire to cars in his lot. Khindri said the first night of mayhem caused $1.5 million in damages to the business; the second night finished off the rest of the cars, adding up to a total of $2.5 million in estimated damage costs.

"I don't think they had any political issues with our lot, our location," Khindri said. "The only problem is we were right by the courthouse."

"The police authorities, they let them out into the city and the first thing they found out is, 'there's a dealership here, let's burn it to the ground.'"

Khindri said he was hopeful at first the dealership's insurance provider would cover the damages. Instead, he said they entirely rejected the claim.

"They don't cover the riots. This is domestic terrorism, don't cover it," said Khindri. "I'm screwed. I'm bankrupt."

There may be some relief coming to the Khindris; during his visit to the city Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced a federal relief package that includes $4 million for Kenosha businesses. Governor Tony Evers announced a package of $1 million no-interest loans for damaged Kenosha businesses; each business can receive up to $20,000 in assistance.

Khindri said he worries the aid won't be enough to save his business or the jobs of the dealership's 23 employees.

"Is there a door for me to knock on that I can see if there's justice for me?" Khindri asked. "These protesters, they ask for justice. Where do I go?"

Khindri said he does not see the wreckage at his business as a symbol or stepping stone toward change. Instead, he said he only feels pain in a community that was already hurting.

"Hopefully no one goes through what I had to deal with," Khindri said. "No one, not even my enemies."

"I hope no one goes through this, at all man. Because it's not bearable."

The Khindris have set up a GoFundMe account to help cover some of the needed repairs, starting with the removal of the burnt out cars. As of Wednesday evening, it had raised nearly $39,000 toward its $500,000 goal.

A. J. Bayatpour

Reporter, WKOW 27

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