Police Continue Investigating Arson Of Cleveland Businesses
CLEVELAND, Oklahoma - Investigators said a man has admitted to stealing from a Cleveland pharmacy that was set on fire.
The shopping center was nearly destroyed by what police said was an arson in 2017, and the months of cleanup and renovations almost forced some of the businesses to throw in the towel.
At the time, the inside Palace Drug was charred walls and smoke-covered aisles.
Now, customers come and go, but it wasn’t easy for the businesses to get back on track.
"I think we relied on each other a lot to get us through this process," said Xhale Spa owner Justin Gilbert.
Gilbert said it took more than five months to re-open, and even longer to recoup the clientele.
During the process, Gilbert said he and some of the other small business owners almost gave up.
"To selfishly do what they did in starting the fire, and affecting so many families and businesses in a small community whenever we've worked really hard to do what we've done. I would like them brought to justice," he said.
Jeremy Reid admitted to playing a part in the burglary of Palace Drug but said he didn't take part in the fire.
Police said the investigation isn't over.
"It's closed part of the case, part of it, but there's still a large part of it that's still open," Chief Clint Stout said.
Gilbert said, "It's kind of hard to believe that he wasn’t a part of one aspect of the entire robbery and not the other. Unless there was a group of them, and then, I guess, more things will come to fruition."
All the businesses that have re-opened in the shopping center are the same as before the fire, but many are still angry they almost lost five locally-owned businesses to the crime.