Popular eatery burns, surveillance recovered

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

QUITMAN COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -  Toni Ward and her husband Brandon are reeling from the loss of their restaurant, Rooty's, off Highway 82 in Georgetown. The family hot spot, affectionately named after the couple's son, was been gutted by flames early Wednesday morning.

"I don't even know how to explain how it makes you feel when you see something that you've put your time and money and family in just fall apart," Toni told WTVM.

"I'm devastated. There's nothing to think. It's just gone," Brandon said.

Quitman County Sheriff's Officials say the fire looked suspicious from the start.

"We noticed that the second floor of the building was on fire. I spoke to fire personnel and the owner who said there were no items on that second floor so there was no reason for there to be fire in that area or anything to start a fire in that area," revealed Chief Deputy Javier Garcia.

The owners say this isn't the first time their business has been the target of mischief.

"A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that there was some damage to the back side like somebody threw something on the side and lit it and tried to burn it back there," Brandon Ward explained.

Garcia is staying tight-lipped on why the business fire is being investigated as a possible arson.

"I don't want to elaborate on that at this time because it is an ongoing investigation but we do have some threats that have occurred on this building from a local resident," he said.

A surveillance system was found still intact and is being reviewed.

"We want some answers for sure and that's one of the reasons we chose to do the camera system, hoping that if any mischief should happen, we could catch it and I just hope that whatever on there will show something," Toni said.

"I hope they find out and bring it to an end and justice will be served," Brandon added.

Arson investigators with the Georgia Fire Marshal's Office are handling the case.

Garcia says depending on what their investigation turns up, the Quitman County Sheriff's Office will prosecute any suspect to the fullest extent of the law.

The owners say they plan to rebuild their restaurant in the same spot.

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