Investigators say the fire that gutted the Atlanta Krispy Kreme doughnut shop owned by former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal earlier this month was arson.
The fire was believed to have been intentionally set on the outside of the building and quickly spread inside causing catastrophic damage, the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department said on Friday in a statement.
Two workers were inside the building when the fire broke out just after midnight on February 10, but they were able to get out safely and call 911. The dining room was closed, so there were no customers inside.
Authorities are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.
“We are saddened by this news but remain thankful that no one was injured,” Krispy Kreme said in a statement. “We continue to work with authorities to assess the damage and are uncertain at this point how long the shop will be closed. But as stated earlier, we’re determined to be back better and sweeter than ever!”
Investigators released pictures of a suspect, who they believe was a man wearing all black clothing.
The Krispy Kreme on Ponce de Leon Avenue has been a beloved landmark in Midtown Atlanta for decades and its glowing red sign was a beacon for hungry people at all hours of the day and night.
It reportedly supplied 150 dozen doughnuts in 1968 to churches feeding the thousands of mourners who participated in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral procession.
O’Neal bought the location in 2016 and became a spokesman for the doughnut franchise, CNN affiliate WXIA reported at the time.
In an Instagram post on the day of the fire, he wrote that “we will be back stronger than ever.”