Omaha Police say that an armed robbery, assault and arson case from Sunday night might have been a hate crime. They say that race or ethnicity might have been the motivation. Federal authorities have been notified. The NAACP has called a news conference to address it.
Two men robbed Bob's Food Mart at 5301 North 16th Street around 10 o'clock Sunday night.
Kassahun Goshime was tied up inside. There was an explosion and fire as the robbers made their getaway.
Goshime managed to get out of the building before the explosion. He escaped with minor injuries.
David Gilinsky of the Anti-Defamation League says if the arsonists targeted the victim for his race, then it defines a hate crime.
"The emotional and psychological impact of not only the victim but the community and it can really terrorize an entire community," says Gilinsky.
This wasn't the first time the owner says has been a target.
Last month Goshime's store was robbed and someone spray painted a racial slur on the wall.
At his home nearby, the phrase "Pay the money, roundhead,” was spraypainted.
Gilinsky says no community is immune from bigotry and racism but this is taking it to an extreme.
"This isn't Omaha. I don't like hearing about this. It's not good for the community," says Gilinsky.
If a hate crime did destroy a man's business and nearly claim his life, the Anti-Defamation League says our community needs education and prevention.
"We need to be open minded. We need to be inclusive. We need to think about walking a mile in another people's shoes for a minute."
One of the suspects in the robbery and fire is described as a white male, between 25-30 years old, approximately 6' 6" tall, weighing approximately 170 pounds, with short brown hair, wearing a brown dress shirt and black pants
The second suspect is described as a white male, between 25-30 years old, approximately 6' 8" tall, weighing approximately 170 pounds, with short brown hair, wearing a brown shirt.
The NAACP will have a news conference Wednesday on this issue.
The president says this crime disturbed her greatly and the community needs to act.