A former Cook Out restaurant employee has been charged with felony burning of an unoccupied building in connection with last week’s fire at the Cook Out restaurant on Union Road in Gastonia, reports the Gaston Gazette.
Randall Keith Jones, 25, of Lewis Road in Gastonia, has maintained his innocence in the incident, which happened shortly after 3 a.m. on Aug. 31.
Police told the Gazette that Jones went into the restaurant’s men’s restroom and lit the paper towel dispenser on fire and tried to set a similar blaze in the women’s room. Police say the fire didn’t spread in the women's bathroom but did about $4,000 in damage to the men’s room, the Gazette reports.
Jones acknowledged that security camera footage showed him entering both bathrooms around that time period but claims he had no involvement in any fire, the Gazette reports. He says the paper towel dispenser wasn't working properly in the men's room, so he stepped into the women's room to get some paper towels.
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Jones is a convicted felon who served nearly 20 months in prison for crimes that include motor vehicle larceny, breaking and entering, credit card theft and receiving a stolen vehicle, the Gazette reports.