Owners of a downtown business destroyed as unrest swept through the city following the shooting of Jacob Blake are desperately seeking help to recoup what they lost.
On the eve of the shooting, the family who owns Car Source – a longstanding car dealer – say dozens of vehicles in their lot were burned in a massive fire.
Charred scraps and shattered glass littered the area, where other downtown buildings had been badly damaged nights before. Only a handful of vehicles in the lot remained unscathed.
Josie Rodriguez, a resident of a house adjacent to Car Source, recalled seeing what she described as a mob descend into the lot and begin smashing cars.
“It was a terrifying time,” Rodriguez said. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, they’re coming here.”
As she phoned 9-1-1, Rodriguez closely watched the unfolding events, which resulted minutes later in a car being set ablaze.
Then, an explosion.
An inferno spread quickly from one vehicle to the next, she said.
“I’m talking flames licking the sky. They were so big. And you hear, ‘boom, boom, boom’ – explosion, after explosion, after explosion.”
Rodriguez said she then dialed 9-1-1 again, but help did not come. Dispatchers told her it was not safe for firefighters to respond to the scene, she said, so she fled for the night.
Anmol Khindri, a member of the family who owns Car Source, estimated the monetary losses at over $2.5 million.
Khindri said police notified him of the damage, but he feels little was done to prevent them.
“Everybody watched it burn to ashes,” he said. “Nobody did nothing about it – nothing.”
The morning following the fire, Rodriguez said she felt relieved that the worst had supposedly passed. Then Car Source was hit again.
Khindri estimated the business’ monetary losses from the first night at about $1.5 million. After figuring the damage sustained during the second episode, he said it was closer to $2.5 million.
Now, with insurance providing no immediate alleviation, Khindri said the business is at a complete loss for what to do next.
“I have a family to feed. I have 20 other families who have worked for this business over the last eight or nine years.”
In the meantime, Car Source has organized a GoFundMe, which had raised just over $12,000 as of Saturday evening. The business aims to raise $500,000 in total.
Khindri is also calling for more protections for local businesses currently suffering from the impact of circumstances out of their control.
“It’s easy for the government to say ‘alright, guys, you’re on your own. I’m sorry, your insurance doesn’t cover it. Oh, I’m sorry for your loss.’ No, that’s not an answer. This happened because they let it happen.”
Rodriguez believes the public should apply their time and energy to uplifting the community, adding, “It is beautiful to see everyone supporting each other, but the damage is done, and the trauma is horrific.”
A link to Car Source’s GoFundMe page is available online at www.gofundme.com/f/car-source-in-kenosha
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