DPS unprepared when arsonist attacked governor's mansion, report says

06/19/2008 1:18 PM

01/15/2010 3:39 AM

AUSTIN -- The night the Texas Governor's Mansion was attacked by an arsonist, the lone state trooper guarding the 152-year-old facility was inadequately trained to be prepared for the emergency, and seven of the 20 security cameras on the grounds were not functioning, the agency that oversees the Texas Department of Public Safety was told Thursday.

"This is likely not the finest hour for the department," Department of Public Safety Commission Chairman Allan Polunsky said (June 19) after hearing a blistering preliminary report on the predawn June 9 blaze.

The report delivered by DPS Sgt. Mike Escalante said that troopers assigned to guard the mansion while it was vacant and undergoing a $10 million renovation had requested additional round-the-clock staffing, but the request had not been acted upon by the time the fire inflicted heavy damage to the stately building.

In addition, key security equipment had been taken off the mansion property for repairs. The lone trooper on duty was not watching the bank of video screens when the fire broke out after someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail at the mansion's porch, Escalante said.

The trooper was later told by an off-duty Austin police officer that a suspicious person was seen leaving the vicinity shortly after firefighters were called. The person then drove away.

Officials later discovered a cigarette lighter near where security cameras showed the arsonist to be.

Join the Discussion

Fort Worth Star-Telegram is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQ | Terms of Service