Silver Spring barber shop fire possibly started intentionally, officials say

The fire broke out inside the barber shop on Bonifant Street in Silver Spring. Photo: Brianne Carter

Montgomery County Fire officials have released the description of a suspect in Thursday’s arson at a barbershop in Silver Spring.

Authorities concluded Thursday that the fire that left the{ }popular{ }Ebony Barbers a charred shell of itself was set intentionally. The shop, which is located in the 900 block of Bonifant Street, had been in business for 20 years.

The trouble at the barber shop began at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, when neighbors reported a man hitting the windows of the business with a baseball bat. A sweep of the area didn't turn up any suspects.

However, just about 2 1/2 hours later, firefighters got a call that the shop was on fire.

The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6 feet tall, weighing between 200-220 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black shorts and black shoes.

Montgomery County Fire officials say that a dog trained to detect accelerants at fire scenes picked up the scent of a flammable liquid that was ignited from an unknown source.

"Whatever it was, it was bad," barber shop owner Michael Bailey said. "I'm on pins and needles just to think of how many people are going to be out of work."

The owner tells ABC 7 News he suspects someone is targeting his shop, but he's unsure who the person is or what the motive may be. He said that similar incidents have occurred at the shop over the last two weeks, including a broken window and another fire attempt.

Police say that they've gotten two reports of vandalism at the barbershop over the past month - one on June 15 and another on June 18.

Daniel Dunbar, a barber who as worked at the shop for six years, says he worries about how long he and his colleagues will be out of work.

"It's going to impact us a lot," Dunbar said. "I have a family and a mortgage."

The barbershop is located in the middle of a strip, but it's unclear if any other businesses were damaged in Thursday's incident. Police say no injuries were reported.

Damage from the fire is estimated at $100,000, Montgomery County Fire officials say. The shop's owners tell ABC 7 that it could take them up to a month to clean up and reopen their business.

"I don't know who they're targeting or why, but hopefully it's the last of what we've seen," barber Edward Kerrick, Jr. said.