GIBBSTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — Brand new video appears to show an arsonist in the act. The flames destroyed a local pizza shop in South Jersey.
On March 5, 2019, just minutes before 2 a.m., a neighbor spotted Broadway Pizza and Grill in Gibbstown ablaze.
Firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes. Fortunately, no one was hurt but the business was a total loss.
After the smoke cleared at the popular restaurant and investigators were able to enter, they recovered a crucial piece of evidence.
Tucked into a storage closet largely unaffected by the fire sat hours of recorded surveillance video, which turned the fire case into a full-fledged arson investigation.
“He decides to start it right here near the cash register,” Detective Warren Rivell said.
Rivell, with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, has been working this case for the past 10 months.
“We’re coming up to a year now, so definitely getting frustrating,” he said.
Rivell says the suspect tried using cooking grease to light the restaurant on fire a little past midnight, but that didn’t work.
“He then leaves the business and returns approximately an hour later with lighter fluid,” Rivell said.
Knowing few stores are open during that time frame, detectives tracked the suspect to a nearby Walmart, where they got surveillance photos of him.
They also believe he may have been with another man, but only one person re-enters the pizza shop.
“He goes throughout the business spreading lighter fluid,” Rivell said.
And then he torched the place. Rivell believes he and the second man fled in a Ford pickup truck with Pennsylvania tags.
“The business is a total loss and that was their life. That was their job and that fed their family,” Rivell said.
The exact motive isn’t known but investigators say the suspect could be a former disgruntled employee or customer, or even “arson for hire.”
Rivell hopes releasing the additional video will finally lead to an arrest.
“I believe we’ll get some information to work with,” he said.
If you recognize the two men, contact the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.