HIS NAME IS ROBERT GILLHAM!
A former employee of Gallery Furniture has been arrested for the four-alarm fire that destroyed the store’s warehouse.
Officials made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday with store owner Jim McIngvale at their side.
The Houston Fire Department said first degree arson charges were filed against Robert Gillham, 66, who was taken into custody earlier in the day. Gillham is a former employee of the furniture store.
Both HFD arson investigators and agents from ATF worked to make the arrest.
“The initial investigation — we had about 15 or so investigators respond,” said Alison Stein from the Houston Arson Bureau. “We were able to get an arrest today.”
Stein said the charges would have been second degree, but an investigator suffered an injury to his hand while working the scene.
Over 150 firefighters responded to the large warehouse on Houston’s north side the night of May 21, and crews worked feverishly to keep the fire from spreading to the store’s show room.
“I witnessed things I probably hadn’t seen in my career. I saw him [McIngvale] praying with his employees,” said HFD Assistant Chief Rick Flannigan. “Our firefighters took a stand. The men and women of the Houston Fire Department did a very good job stopping the spread of this fire.”
Flannigan said the fire was one of the largest he had ever seen.
McIngvale, also known as “Mattress Mack,” added to Flannigan’s comments, but stopped short of discussing the investigation in detail.
“We’re here today to thank the incredible Houston Fire Department and the ATF arson division for the countless hours they put in to make this arrest 61 days later,” said McIngvale. “I had no doubt that they would find the perpetrator of this heinous crime. I’ll let the legal system take its course.”
Records show the suspect has two priors charges for criminal mischief that were dismissed in 2007.