- Wind Tiki, a nearly five-decade-old Chinese restaurant in Webster, Massachusetts, was set ablaze in the early morning of March 18.
- Two other restaurants were targeted at around the same time.
- Surveillance videos in the Thompson Road area helped police identify Joel Batista-Viera, 42, as a suspect.
- Batista-Viera surrendered on Wednesday and was subsequently charged with multiple offenses.
- Wind Tiki had been a local staple since the 1970s, drawing generations of families as its patrons.
A man has been arrested and charged in connection with a three-alarm fire that destroyed a beloved Chinese restaurant in Webster, Massachusetts, earlier this month.
Joel Batista-Viera, 42, allegedly broke into and set Wind Tiki at 154 Thompson Road on fire at around 2 a.m. on March 18. The restaurant reportedly closed at 8:30 p.m. the night before and no one was inside at the time of the incident.
Batista-Viera is also believed to have targeted two other restaurants — Mexicali Cantina Grill at 41 Worcester Road and Lake Pizza at 39 Thompson Road — on the same night. Webster police said he tried to access Mexicali’s cash registers and set the restaurant on fire with a candle.
While Lake Pizza was targeted, no one managed to enter the business. Police recovered the restaurant’s surveillance footage.
Batista-Viera surrendered to Webster police on Wednesday. He was charged with two counts of larceny from a building, two counts of breaking and entering at night with intent to commit a felony, two counts of vandalizing property, one count of attempting to commit a crime, one count of burning a building, and one count of attempting to burn a building, as per court documents.
Erected in 1974, Wind Tiki had been a staple sight in the area. Patrons expressed regret over the incident.
“It’s really sad, especially because it’s a family business,” Katie McGlynn told Boston 25 News. “I mean, not too many of those made it through the pandemic, especially the restaurants.”