Ex-employee wanted in suspected arson at downtown Decatur coffee shop

Rickey Hodges Thomas

Credit: Decatur Police Department

Credit: Decatur Police Department

Rickey Hodges Thomas

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information about the suspect. 

Two weeks after a fire damaged a popular downtown Decatur coffee shop, police have identified a suspect in the alleged arson.

Rickey Hodges Thomas, 28, is suspected of setting a fire that ripped through Java Monkey on Church Street and damaged two nearby restaurants, Fresh to Order and Noodle, Decatur police said. Tres Jolie Dress shop also had water and smoke damage. 
A spokesperson for the coffee shop told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Thomas was hired as a barista a month ago and was fired three days before the fire.

The fire damaged Java Monkey on Church Street in downtown Decatur, and two nearby businesses had smoke and water damage, fire officials said. (JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM)


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Decatur fire crews got to the shop about 11:25 p.m. on Nov. 12 and saw flames “coming out of the front door,”  Deputy Fire Chief Vera Morrison said at the time.

The business said on its Facebook page the day after the blaze that it plans to rebuild.

The origin and cause of the fire were still under investigation, Morrison said Monday afternoon.

Thomas is described as approximately 5-foot-10 and 162 pounds.

Anyone who knows of his whereabouts is asked to contact Decatur fire Capt. Kevin Rice, Arson Investigator at kevin.rice@decaturga.com or 678-553-6587. Tipsters can also contact Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta at 404 577-8477 and remain anonymous.

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