Local News

Suspicion of Teen Arson Prompts Talk of Curfew in Roanoke Rapids

Posted May 31, 1998

— Flames leveled the Heilig Meyers store in downtown Roanoke Rapids this weekend, and officials think three kids out on the streets in the early morning hours may have started the fire. That possibility has some people asking city hall for help.

There's not much left of the store that sold furniture to citizens of Roanoke Rapids for more than 40 years. The heat that erupted around 3 a.m. Sunday was intense. It may also be strong enough to bring back the debate for a city-wide teen curfew. Investigators believe three youths set the fire.

"I'd just like to see young men and young women not out late at night. I have a son and i have a daughter and i always taught them to be home before eleven o'clock," said store manager Johnny Wills.

Three years ago, city leaders enacted a loitering ordinance, but stopped short of a curfew for teens. Council member David King says he expects the curfew issue to return but doesn't know if he would support it.

"There's a lot of good kids in the city of Roanoke Rapids and in America, and I think a lot of times children get a bad rap because of the actions of a very select few," said King.

Several kids told WRAL-TV5'sBrian Bowmanthey had plenty to do in Roanoke Rapids.

Curfew or not, some say standards at home are to blame for this behavior, and until that changes, no law can keep it from happening again.

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