Arsonist at Tenderloin market caught on camera

- The owner of a Tenderloin market on Geary Boulevard near Larkin Street in San Francisco showed us surveillance video of an arsonist in action in his store from over the weekend. 

Caution tape is in place inside MidCity Market after what appears to be an arsonist who struck Sunday morning at 12:30 a.m. by lighting toilet paper on fire. 

Eyad Shqair showed us the damage. He said in his 12 years of owning his business, nothing like this has ever happened before. 

His cameras capture a man, carrying a distinctive red and white backpack, walking to the back of the store. He goes to a shelf, opens a package of toilet paper, pulls something out of his pocket and walks away. 

Soon after a fire breaks out. The cashier sees billowing smoke and tries to put it out. 

"I was shocked. I just ran inside to see what happened and called 911 right away," said Sam Sileem, the market's cashier. 

Neighbors said they're grateful firefighters responded quickly. 

"There was tons of smoke coming out and they're on the roof going down. It was horrible. All I could think of was, these are my neighbors. I come here every day," said Anna Lund, a neighbor.

Inside the market, is a taqueria, so despite the early morning hour when the arsonist struck, there were about 15 people inside the market. 

San Francisco Fire Department is investigating the incident, saying it was an intentional act, but that it is not linked to any other fires at this time. 

"I just can't believe someone would just come in here and light toilet paper on fire and cause harm to these people," said Lund. 

The store owner said it's unthinkable that someone would deliberately set fire at a time when people are coping with the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County. 

"If you're watching, you're lucky I wasn't here, but if you're really watching, turn yourself in because you're going to kill someone somewhere else," Shqair. 

The suspect is described as being Asian with a medium build and stands at about 5'5" tall. 

 

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