KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local Muslim family felt targeted after the Orlando mass shooting, when someone intentionally set fire to a bush in front of their Kansas City home.
The scary incident happened one day after the Orlando massacre that killed 49 people. The family believes it's a hate crime and police are now investigating.
“When we came out that fire was like that tall, it was going from the top of the bushes,” explained Imran Akram as he pointed to a charred bush outside his front door.
The blaze woke up Akram and his family around 4 a.m. on Monday. They rushed to pour water on the bush, only to find a pile of debris and an aerosol can sitting at the bottom.
“It looks like some books and some toilet paper,” he said. “Somebody put it all together and someone put oil and started the fire.”
It’s an apparent arson that’s put the family on edge ever since the Orlando shooting.
“I feel so bad for those people who have been killed in the Orlando night club,” he said, “because they had done nothing wrong. And just one person got up, got the guns and just killed them. That’s so bad. That’s so bad and that does not represent Islam.”
But Akram just can’t help but think his family was being targeted for sharing the same religion as the shooter.
“I am Muslim,” he said. “My color is different. My ethnicity is different, too.”
Akram and his Muslim family moved to the United States from Pakistan 16 years ago, and they've lived in their Kansas City, Mo., neighborhood for the past eight years.
They’ve never had any issues – until now.
“It`s scary because we had never had that happen before,” he said, “and especially that fire, very close to the home, and that makes us scared.”
Akram believes the bush fire is a hate crime that's unwarranted, and said he thinks his religion is often misunderstood.
“Islam is a very peaceful religion,” he said. “And it cares about those people that are living in the country, and our neighbors –to live with them peacefully, not to act like those who do terrorism or something like that stuff.”
He is now speaking out to squash any misconceptions about his beliefs and to promote peace within his neighborhood.
“If they had any kind of confusion, they can come, sit down and talk to me and ask me questions,” he said of encouraging conversation with those who started the fire.
Police still don't know who did it, but if you do, they ask you call Crime Stoppers at (816) 474-TIPS.