NEW BALTIMORE (WWJ) – Police say they have at least two people in custody in connection with an arson at a popular restaurant in Macomb County.

New Baltimore Police Chief Tim Wiley said two men, a 27-year-old and 33-year-old from New Baltimore, were arrested Wednesday in connection with the weekend fire at Poncho’s Mexican Restaurant.

“Specifically, we are looking to seek charges against [the suspects] for breaking and entering and arson of the restaurant,” Wiley said.

During the course of their investigation, Wiley said officers also arrested a 44-year-old Dearborn Heights man on a parole absconder warrant violation. Investigators are now checking to see if there is a connection between that man, the other suspects and the fire.

The Sunday fire was started near in the rear entryway of the building while the restaurant was closed. Wiley said the fire was set intentionally, although no motive was given.

“Especially when you hear about a restaurant fire on a day they’re not open, in the early morning hours, nowhere near the kitchen, right out of the gate is kind of suspicious in and of itself,” he said.

The Macomb Daily reported that one of the owners of Poncho’s, Lora Diehl, is in a legal battle over her late brother’s estate, challenging the validity of his marriage. Police aren’t saying if that litigation is connected to the fire. However, Wiley said as far as investigators know at this point, there’s no relationship between the suspects and the restaurant owners.


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