(EDGE) A building owned by a gay couple from South Carolina was burned to the ground last week and the men are calling the incident a hate crime.
Tim Griffin and his partner Neil Griffin, from Pageland, S.C., woke up at 2 a.m. Friday morning when they smelled fire and smoke. But by the time the fire department arrived, "the building was 80%, 90% gone," Tim Griffin told local news station WSOC-TV. The newly built 3,000-square-foot building was going to host the Miss Pageland Pageant beauty contest.
"It went down just like that," he added. The men also said they lost all their pageant supplies, records and about 1,000 gowns they were storing.
The couple also said they believe the fire was motivated by hate. The men explained they have recently received violent threats on social media.
"This town is dealing with a lot of hate right now," Tim Griffin said. "This has just got to stop."
Pageland town officials confirmed to WSCO-TV that the couple requested law enforcement to investigate the online threats. Pageland Police Chief Craig Greenlee said law officials have labeled the fire suspicious but not a hate crime. Officials have yet released a cause of the fire.
Tim Griffin said the fire was suspicious as the building did not yet have electricity, adding there was only one car parked outside the building and that there was nothing combustable stored inside.
"We can't take it anymore, emotionally and physically," Tim Griffin told WSCO-TV. "We'll go. We're done."
The building was going to be used for the annual Miss Pageland pageants, which would have served as a rehearsal space and a place for local kids to hang out. The men planned to have a pool table and a movie screen in the space.
New Now Next reports the Griffins apparently have issues with a few of Pageland's leaders. Tim Griffin has made several posts on Facebook since the fire. In one post, he accuses councilwoman Elaine Robertson and her family of "posting comments about harming us, shooting us, running us out of town -- calling us fags, child molesters, child-porn distributors, threatening Neil's job and on and on."
He added that after reporting the threats to authorities, "they did nothing."
The couple have, however, thanked local police and many other in their community for their support. Find Tim's posts below.
Watch WSOC-TV's report on the incident below.