DECATUR, Ga. — A man who worked at a popular Decatur coffee shop was convicted of arson on Thursday, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office.
The office said 32-year-old Rickey Thomas was found guilty of:
- Arson in the first degree
- Arson in the second degree
- Criminal damage to property in the second degree
- Burglary in the second degree
The court sentenced Thomas to 30 years; 10 in custody.
"Additionally, he is to have no contact with the victims," the office said.
Police and fire departments in Decatur were called to a fire at the Java Monkey coffee shop on Nov. 11, 2018, located at 425 Church St.
The coffee shop had "severe damage," and surrounding businesses Noodle and Fresh to Order were evacuated. The other two businesses suffered damage, too.
Fire officials said the fire started in the back office. Later, surveillance footage showed Thomas wearing a backpack in the back office with a broom handle. Investigators said it "was used to break a rear window of the business."
Java Monkey's owner identified Thomas as a "disgruntled ex-employee" who was fired days before the fire.
Officers arrested Thomas on April 1, 2019 wearing the same backpack, and said they searched his phone and found an "incriminating text message to his roommate."
A hearing for restitution is scheduled for a later date, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office.
Days after the fire Java Monkey posted on social media that they were working with designers and planners to rebuild and hope to be up and running in about four months.
Their custodians wrote, "This place is an institution in not only Decatur but also far outside of Atlanta."
Unfortunately, the business was not able to recover and is permanently closed.