The would-be arsonist is still at large.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Everyone knows that ice cream shoppes are a hot commodity in the summertime, but this local Gastonia staple almost went up in smoke.

Recently released surveillance video shows an unidentified suspect breaking open a window on the side of Tony’s ice cream before throwing an incendiary device inside early Thursday morning.

“It would’ve been devastating to Gaston County if we would’ve lost Tony’s ice cream to a lot of people. Not just me, but a lot of… people who are born and raised in Gaston County,” says Tony’s regular Albert McMillan.

Upon arrival at about 5:45 AM Thursday, the Gastonia Fire Department didn’t find much in terms of damage, but the fact remains: this is an arson investigation, leaving many in the community shaking their heads and asking why.

“Any place where you can come and get food fit for a king or a queen, and someone would try to burn the place down? Uh-uh. Decent people don’t do that,” longtime Gastonia resident Scotch Tapey told us.

“I’d like to have about 10 minutes with him. And it would not be nice.”

This isn’t the first time the 100-plus-year-old restaurant has made headlines. Dozens of protestors gathered in front of Tony’s in July 2020 after a woman claimed she was treated poorly in retaliation for wearing a Black Lives Matter button while inside. We reached out to the Coletta family, who owns the store, along with a manager, but no comment was given on the fire.

The culprit and motivation behind the arson attempt remain a mystery, but one thing is for certain.

“We’re not going anywhere. To Gaston County, we’re a family-owned community. Keep coming, and we’re going to keep building and keep coming to Tony’s ice cream,” says McMillan.


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