Man charged with setting fire to beloved five-decade-old Chinese restaurant in Massachusetts

A man has been arrested and charged in a triple fire that destroyed a beloved Chinese restaurant in Webster, Massachusetts, earlier this month.

Joel Batista-VieraThe 42-year-old is believed to have broken into the house around 2 a.m. on March 18 and set fire to Wind Tiki at 154 Thompson Road. Closed at 8:30pm 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 gain access to the Mexicali cash registers and set the restaurant on fire with a candle.

While Lake Pizza was targeted, no one managed to get into the company. The police recovered the CCTV footage from the restaurant.

After analyzing security videos from other branches in Thompson Road, police tracked down a man who was at the Mobil gas station when Wind Tiki was on fire. They later identified him as Batista-Viera.

Batista-Viera surrendered to Webster police on Wednesday. He was charged two counts of theft of a building, two counts of burglary at night with intent to commit a crime, two counts of destruction of property, one count of attempting to commit a crime, one count of burning a building and one count of trying to set fire to a building, according to court documents.

Founded in 1974, Wind Tiki was an important sight in the area. Patrons expressed regret about the incident.

“It’s really sad, especially because it’s a family business,” Katie McGlynn said Boston 25 News† “I mean, not too many of them survived the pandemic, especially the restaurants.”

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