Jerusalem Restaurant owner talks after explosion

LOVELAND, Ohio - With stitches in the back of his head and second-degree burns covering his legs, arms, hands and face, Aiman Arabeiat is at home, in bed, charged with arson.

But said he did not set fire to his Clifton Heights business, Jerusalem Restaurant. A restaurant, that he said, he put $10,000 in renovations over the last month. It was set to re-open this week—but before that could happen the restaurant went up in explosive smoke.

Amjud Arabeiat recalled the moments his father stepped foot inside the restaurant on Sunday prior to their business trip to Chicago for equipment like a gyro slicer.

"It was suppose to be, get in and just get out to be on our way to Chicago and this explosion happened, and luckily I was there to rescue my dad," said Amjud Arabeiat, Aiman's son, about the day their restaurant exploded so much that the windows burst through the building. He took his father to the hospital.

Aiman said he is not guilty of arson.

"I don't know why he charge me. He wants to go through a shortcut. This my restaurant... I spent money for it when I fix it."

Amjud cannot comprehend why the police are charging his father.    

"They're trying to charge my father with arson. It's ridiculous. I don't know why they would think of a restaurant owner that invested tons of money would blow up his own restaurant."

Aiman was released Thursday around 4:30 p.m. from University Hospital and taken immediately into custody—but there was a problem.

"They tried to put him the back of the cruiser. He is so bandaged up they couldn't fit him in the back of the cruiser. So what did they do? They went and got a bigger car. They put him in a bigger car," said Aiman's defense attorney Kerry Holleran.

It was a painful ordeal for the arson suspect.

"I don't fit in regular car. He go bring an SUV. I not fit. He hurt me when he put me in the SUV," he said.

From the hospital, he was then transported by the police to jail, where they refused to process him because of his injuries.

"Over there he say, can't take him. This guy stay here...he die soon," remembered Aiman.

"The intake sergeant at the justice center rejected him. He said, 'He's too sick to be incarcerated. We cannot handle him. We can't keep him. We're not equipped for this," said Holleran.

He was taken to his home in Loveland via an ambulance around 10 p.m. on Thursday and at that time was notified that he needed to appear before the judge Friday morning.

"This man had strict instructions on how to care for his burns. The hospital couldn't even do it; they have a nursing staff in the hospital. There's no way he could be here this morning," said Holleran.

Although his attorney said he is too ill to travel, Aiman is set to appear in court Monday for his arraignment that he missed Friday.

The investigator on this case would not comment because the investigation is ongoing.

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