Woman wanted after Atlanta Wendy’s burns in shooting protest

National News
Natalie White

This image from surveillance video tweeted by Atlanta Fire Rescue shows Natalie White. White has been identified as a suspect in the arson fire on Saturday, June 13, 2020, that burned down the Wendy’s restaurant, 125 University Ave., in Atlanta, where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer. (Courtesy of Atlanta Fire Rescue via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — Investigators said Saturday they have issued an arrest warrant for a woman in connection with a fire at a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta during protests over the police shooting of an African American man.

Natalie White is a suspect in the arson and investigators are asking for help finding her, Atlanta Fire and Rescuesaid in a Twitter post.

The post included surveillance pictures of White, 29, in a store, but no additional identifying information.

Several people are suspected of trying to set fires in the restaurant before the blaze finally spread, fire officials said.

Demonstrators threw bricks and rocks at firefighters as they tried to get to the restaurant, and they couldn’t start fighting the blaze until it had destroyed the building, Atlanta Fire Chief Randall Slaughter has said.

Atlanta police officers were called to the Wendy’s on June 12 over complaints of a car blocking the drive-thru lane. Officers found Rayshard Brooks asleep in the car.

The officers spoke to Brooks, who was Black, for more than 40 minutes, but things quickly turned violent when they tried to handcuff him, according to body camera video.

An autopsy found Brooks was shot twice in the back. Garrett Rolfe was fired from the police department immediately after the shooting and was charged Wednesday with felony murder. Rolfe, 27, is white.

Protesters gathered the night after Brooks was killed, breaking the windows in the restaurant before the fire was set.

During a news conference Saturday afternoon, Interim Chief Rodney Bryant said he was “shocked” that Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard brought charges so quickly against the two officers involved in Brooks’ death.

He said that decision, along with officers’ concerns about their training and their safety during large protests have contributed to an “above average” number of officers calling in sick in recent days.

Bryant assured the community that despite the absences there were many officers who “continue to answer the call.”

He also directed his comments toward the officers who have called in sick, saying, “We are all upset for the recent events and we are also concerned for our fellow officers. I implore you to channel the concerns for the fellow officers by having their back.”

Brooks was a father of four. On Saturday, a restaurant owner and a historically Black university in Atlanta announced that they will provide full college scholarships to his four children.

The award will cover tuition, room and board, and meals to Clark Atlanta University. The charitable foundation of Aisha “Pinky” Cole, who graduated from the school, is helping. Cole is CEO of the Slutty Vegan restaurant in southwest Atlanta.

Shortly before his death, body camera footage shows that Brooks told officers that he had a few drinks because it was his daughter’s eighth birthday.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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