I have often wondered about this fire. Questioned the timing, you might say, since the Texas Democrats were holding their state convention in Austin the same weekend the governor’s mansion burned. That’s looking like something other than idle speculation now. The fire occurred the night of June 8, 2008. Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, was governor at the time. Lots of Democrats were nearby, and engaged in a few days of uninterrupted Perry-hate. I’m by no means the only Texan who has wondered about this.
DPS took over the investigation into that fire in October 2009, and now are seeking what they term “persons of interest.” These persons of interest are also connected to another attack on Republicans.
During the forensic review of the surveillance video, which took a significant amount of time and manpower to review the thousands of hours of tape from 11 separate cameras, the investigative team found a video segment of a suspicious vehicle—a white Jeep Cherokee, whose occupants were observed taking photos of the Governor’s Mansion at approximately 2 a.m. on June 4, 2008—four days before the arson.
There were more than 3,000 similar Jeeps registered in Texas, but through a process of elimination investigators were able to locate the specific vehicle in question and its owner, who admitted to driving the vehicle while the photos of the Mansion were being taken. The driver, now considered a person of interest, also revealed to investigators the identities of two people who were riding in the vehicle with him that night.
Investigators subsequently interviewed the two passengers, who are now also considered persons of interest. One passenger initially denied having been in the vehicle, but later admitted to having been in the vehicle and taking photographs after failing a polygraph examination. All three persons have denied involvement in the arson of the mansion.
At least one of the persons of interest has been placed in the downtown area the morning of the mansion fire.
Investigators have also established a direct link from the persons of interest to an Austin-based anarchist group that was linked to a planned attack on the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in September 2008, which involved Molotov cocktails.
The same bunch that plotted to attack the RNC may actually have burned the Texas governor’s mansion.