LINDEN, Texas. (KTAL/KMSS) – A local business owner in Atlanta, Texas is left devastated after her business was burned to the ground and Cass County law enforcement discovered it was arson.
The owner said she got a call from her husband saying her business that offers gymnastic classes was on fire. She watched it burn down and lost many special things in the fire.
Cass County officials held a press conference Monday afternoon outside the Linden courthouse detailing how they found who set the fires to the downtown buildings in Atlanta last week.
Police arrested 18-year-old Bobby Denton for felony criminal mischief after a witness came forward and his statement matched with surveillance video. Officials believe Denton was homeless at the time.
“This witness verified that he and Bobby Denton had been in the alleyway next to East Texas Tumblers and had pushed the side door open. Denton told him they could walk inside but the witness walked away. The witness told investigators with the ATF and the Atlanta Police Department that Denton told him they were other vacant buildings in the area where they could go set fires to stay warm. He identified at least two other buildings. Small fires in those buildings have been confirmed,” said Courtney Shelton, Cass County Criminal District Attorney.
Becky McClure owns East Texas Tumblers that offers gymnastic, tumbling and cheer classes.
“I’m just really sad. I’ve been there for 18 years and had thousands of kids go through there. I’ve had a lot of kids go through there and write their names on the wall when they learned a new skill,” McClure said.
The fire completely destroyed her business.
“There’s nothing. It’s gone. My wedding pictures were in there,” McClure said.
She said former students have contacted her and her community is supportive. But her family is still trying to figure out what to do next.
“Once you’ve paid off something, at 50 something years old you don’t want to get into debt again,” McClure said.
She said she’ll start with getting new tumbling mats and teach class at a temporary location for now.
“East Texas Tumblers is not gone. We’re coming back,” McClure said.
Her students and their parents have organized a bake sale on Saturday at Price Hardware in Atlanta to help.