A Black family living in an exclusive Southern California enclave is now wondering if an explosion was deliberately set because of their race.
Earlier this month, the $3.5 million Manhattan Beach home of Ronald and Malissia Clinton was targeted by someone who poured gasoline on a tire, lit it and left it at their front door.
Clinton said he awakened about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday to “a loud boom” at his house in the 700 block of 11th Street. At first he suspected a pipe had burst, but realized the crackling sound he heard was fire outside his front door.
Clinton, whose wife was away on business in Washington, D.C., awakened his 8-year-old son and ran into his 9-year-old daughter’s room to collect her. He told her to call 9-1-1 as they hurried downstairs to wake up his 15-year-old son, and grab the dog.
Once outside, Clinton grabbed a garden hose and sprayed water on the front door, knocking down flames until firefighters arrived to finish the job.
Clinton said he suspects someone poured gasoline over a tire and hurled it at his front door. Firefighters said in a statement that the fire was confined to the front entrance, but caused significant smoke damage to the second and third floors.
“The motive has not been determined and to speculate before the completion of the investigation can be detrimental to the family, the community and the investigation,” the statement said.
Manhattan Beach Fire Chief Robert Espinosa said investigators are working to determine how the fire started and motives. It was too soon to know whether the Clintons’ suspicions about race are correct.
At a rally days later, members of the Manhattan Beach community came out in support of the Clinton family saying that they would not allow that kind of hate crime to cause a rift in their community.
The Clintons have lived in the community for 11 years without incident. Ronald Clinton is a pharmacist and his wife is a corporate lawyer. Damage to the home is estimated at approximately $200,000.