PIKESVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — For 36 years, Scott and Kathie Reich have owned Jilly’s Bar and Grill in Pikesville. Early Wednesday morning, their livelihood burned to the ground.

“It’s just so sad, I don’t even know what to do now. This was our life, you know, this was our life,” Kathie Reich said.

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Reich told WJZ her husband had an encounter with a man he’d never met outside the restaurant Tuesday night.

“I came home, and my husband told me he had had a run-in with some guy who threatened him at the restaurant,” Reich said.

3-Alarm Fire Breaks Out At Jilly’s In Pikesville Early Wednesday

She said they believed the man might be homeless and staying in their elevator shed, but eventually Scott had to call the police.

“He told him he can’t stay there and he said ‘Oh, I’m not, I’m just passing through,’ and then he left and came back and was staring down our customers and they felt really uncomfortable,” Reich said.

Baltimore County Police came out Tuesday and issued a no-trespassing order to 40-year-old David McDermott, and McDermott threatened the family.

“And he told him he’d be back, watch your back type thing and obviously he meant it,” Reich said.

Sgt. Vickie Warehime with the Baltimore County Police Department said they were able to piece together a suspect using that information.

“That day that suspect made a statement ‘Well I’ll be back,’ so the next day was the fire, as they’re on scene of the fire doing the investigation, the officers from the night before saw that suspect lingering in the area,” Warehime said.

“Sometimes it’s an indicator if someone’s involved in an arson they come back to see their work. Through the investigation, officers stopped that individual to talk to him and it was determined that he was responsible for setting the place on fire,” she continued.

McDermott was then arrested for second-degree arson.

“This is all from retaliation, we believe, from the day before. The suspect didn’t work there, didn’t have anything to do with the restaurant, really it was just (an) encounter with the owner of the restaurant the day before and we issued a no-trespass order to stay off the grounds,” Warehime said.

Investigators think McDermott used outdoor heaters to set the fire.

“Investigators determined there were four propane heaters that were used that were up against the wall. We believe the suspect ignited those heaters, put them all against the wall so the paneling could ignite,” Warehime said.

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Kathie Reich said she thinks the man might have been homeless and possibly mentally ill.

“I’m hoping that we can rebuild in a reasonable amount of time, but I don’t know that that’s possible or not, but I’m also hoping the guy who did it, in my feeling, he’s obviously got some problems, and I really hope that he gets help because I don’t want to see anybody else or anybody else’s business is hurt,” Reich said.

Warehime said she too has ties to Jilly’s.

“For this iconic restaurant that’s been in the Pikesville area for years I spent half my career there. I’m very familiar with that restaurant and it’s just a shame that this had to happen,” she said.

They said nobody could have predicted this would happen just because of what McDermott said.

“’I’ll be back’ is not necessarily a threat, it’s just a statement. What does ‘I’ll be back’ mean? Nobody in their right mind would’ve ever in their right mind believed someone would take four propane heaters and push them against the wall of the building,” Warehime said.

“I never thought in our wildest dreams that what he said would mean he was going to burn down the place,” Reich said.

Kathie and Scott have owned and run Jilly’s for 36 years but it’s been in their family for 50-plus years. Kathie’s main concern now is her employees.

“I feel bad for my employees, my customers, the community, they have just been so wonderful to us and the outpouring of everybody coming to see us,” Reich said. “People I don’t even know of and they say ‘We got you, you’re the best place and please rebuild,’ it’s just right now it’s just kind of out there and we hope to rebuild we love this place and it won’t be exactly the same, but we will try to make it exactly the same.”

She is asking any restaurants with openings to email her at Ksreich@aol.com or contact them on Facebook to help get some of her employees into jobs for the time being.

A GoFundMe has also been set up.

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McDermott is still in jail under a no-bail status. He was scheduled for a bond review at 1 p.m. Thursday but that hearing was postponed to Friday.

CBS Baltimore Staff