Burned Down Tire Shop Rebuilds; Owner Has Arsonist Released From Prison

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The spectacular flames could be seen across the city. A Northwest Baltimore tire and repair shop burns to the ground. Now the business is back, and as Mike Schuh reports, the arsonist might be as well.

At 76, Buddy Washington can’t read or write. But you’re looking at a remarkable man. He’s owned a tire business.

“Fifty-two years for myself,” Washington, owner of Belvedere Tire, explained.

But on Sept. 26, under that smoke, those flames, was his business.

“The will of God gonna be done,” he said.

By the will of the state, his employee Jason Hicks was arrested for arson. But Washington says Hicks was just horsing around. This all was accidental.

“There’s not too many young black men that come and work in cold and grease,” Washington said of Hicks. “I set him out there and watch him out there with his hands in the cold, working like that. He trying to make it.”

So Washington traveled downtown and told the prosecutor Hicks shouldn’t go to prison.

This week, Hicks pleaded guilty to arson. Based on Washington’s words, his 10-year sentence was suspended.

Reporter: “Would you ever hire him back?”
Washington: “That’s what I told the state’s attorney. If he get out, he got a job back.”
Reporter: “You would hire him back?”
Washington: “Yeah, I hire him back.”

Washington is rebuilding his business. He’s illiterate, but he’s learned bits of the good book.

“It’s much easier to do right than to do wrong,” Washington said.

He shares the most important parts.

“No matter what they do to you, if you can forgive them, then God forgives you. That’s right,” he said.

Jason Hicks will be on probation and if it’s violated, he could be sent to prison for the nine years and 10 months of his 10-year sentence.

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