Arnold Gabriel will never forget the final words Keith McBride said to him during their telephone conversation 7:40 a.m. April 14.
""I have to go. I hear the fire engines."
The conversation abruptly ended and it was a disturbing conversation. According to court records, McBride, 51, the owner of the Coin-Op business in Webb City, told Gabriel he had burned his business and his home and was ready to kill himself with a .45 caliber pistol.
That likely would have been the result if his handgun hadn't jammed, McBride told ATF Special Agent Dan Fridley. "This all would have ended," he said.
McBride, who was officially charged with arson today in U. S. District Court. The arson charge applies only to Coin-Op and not to McBride's residence, because the business burned affected interstate commerce, according to the criminal complaint.
Gabriel was not the only person McBride reached during his round of farewell messages, according to the probable cause affidavit entered into court records. State Fire Marshal Investigator Randy Sweet told Fridley "Keith McBride had placed several telephone calls to friends and family earlier that same day.
McBride was arrested after Webb City Police found him hiding in a warehouse. The WCPD, with help from the Joplin Police Department, was able to contact McBride. He showed his weapon to the officers and threatened to kill himself. A hostage negotiator tried for several hours to convince McBride to put down the gun and leave the warehouse.
During the ongoing conversation, McBride admitted to "blowing up" his business, according to the probable cause affidavit, and said "he had no reason to go on living."
Finally, he surrendered after police were able to set off tear gas inside the warehouse. At that point, McBride was taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center for mental evaluation.
On April 19, Fridley and Sweet read McBride his Miranda rights, then he agreed to answer questions. He admitted to setting the fires at the business and at his home, the affidavit said. "McBride stated that he was tired and blamed his business and residence for his troubles. McBride stated that he thought if he eliminated the business and his residence, he would eliminate the source of his problems," though he added he didn't think anyone else would understand his reasoning.
On the same day, the Webb City Clerk told Fridley that McBride's business license had been revoked on March 22 by the state of Missouri and Webb City, for failure to pay delinquent sales tax.
McBride made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 22, in Courtroom 2601, at the U. S. Courthouse at 222 North John Q. Hammons Parkway in Springfield.
More information about McBride's finances can be found in the April 20 Turner Report.
Alleged internet pervert Gary Blankenship is back behind the screen again, eagerly e-mailing missives to his former co-workers at O'Sullivan Industries.
Blankenship, who was one of O'Sullivan's top executives when he allegedly arranged a sexual liaison with a 13-year-old girl he met over the Internet (who turned out to be a middle-aged police officer). He resigned shortly after his arrest, but he has been in touch with former co-workers on more than one occasion. Thanks to the readers who sent me copies of his latest message. It follows in its entirety:
"Hello to all.
"First, I wish to apologize for my actions. Regardless of guilt or innocence,I should never have done anything that would put my coworkers into this situation. For my actions, I am deeply sorry and do apologize.
"Second, I pray that each of you know me well enough to realize that I am not guilty of the charges that have been made. Of the 10 counts made against me, I will officially be arraigned on only one count - the other nine will be dropped.
"Last, I am sending this to each of you requesting your help. Most of you have either been contacted by, or have a message from Betty Jackson, secretary to my lawyer, Dee Wampler. I had to put together a list of character references and I could think of none better than the people I have spent a lot of time with for the past several years.The decision is up to you as to whether you wish to provide any comment regarding my character but I would appreciate your comments.
"I hope things are going well for all of you and the new O'Sullivan is beginning to shape up. I wish all of you health and happiness, and hope to talk with you soon.
"Thanks again for your support."
I omitted the address and phone number, which were placed at the end of the message.
Let me know what you think.