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Students rally around store owner hit by arson

"That's all we're trying to do is help him and get him back on his feet," said Patrick Lockwood, the Washburn High School senior who launched the online fundraiser.

MINNEAPOLIS – Students at Washburn High School are rallying behind the owner of a nearby convenience store, burned out over the weekend by an arsonist.

“It really warms my heart,” Martin Onuh, the owner of the CK store, said of the outpouring of support. “I still can't believe it.”

In two days, a GoFundMe page started by a student has raised more than $8,000.

“That's all we're trying to do is help him and get him back on his feet,” said Patrick Lockwood, the Washburn senior who launched the online fundraiser.

CK Food & Fuel – located at 48th and Nicollet - is a frequent stop for Washburn students before and after school. Some buy soft drinks and snacks. Others just stop to chat with Onuh.

“He would ask how your day is going, instead of you asking how his day is going,” said freshman Nyagach Kueth.

Onuh was known for floating his young customers for a few days if they came in for a purchase and found themselves short of money.

“If we didn’t have enough he would say, ‘Go ahead, pay the rest whenever you can,’ said senior Deaven James.

Onuh arrived at work early Sunday morning to find firefighters putting out the blaze that gutted his store.

Investigators have ruled the fire an arson.

“I just don't know why somebody would,” Onhu said, his voice trailing off. “I just don't know.”

Onuh – a Nigerian immigrant – worked for other stores as he saved enough money to buy his own eight years ago.

The students say there was never a time – morning, noon, or night – Onuh could not be found behind his counter.

“Never a day off, except on Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Onuh said.

Onuh said his landlord’s losses will be covered by insurance, while his own are uninsured. Onuh’s insurance company canceled his policy after a series of previous break-ins.

The fundraiser will go a long way toward helping him get back in business.

“All good kids, that’s the way I see them,” Onuh said of his Washburn high school friends. “They’re all good kids.”

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