Investigators said Monday they believe someone angry with the government set the Texas Governor's Mansion on fire this month, and they offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado had said last week that investigators did not believe the blaze was politically motivated, but he changed course Monday.
“It is likely that feelings of anger may have motivated his crime,” Maldonado said at a news conference Monday. “He may be known to get angry and express strong opinions about the government, Governor Perry himself, the death penalty, the renovation of the mansion or other political issues.”
Maldonado did not say what led investigators to that conclusion. He appealed to the arsonist himself for help solving the case.
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“We do feel you had a message and we would like to hear from you. We're not quite sure what that message is, but please contact us,” he said.
Maldonado said officials are not ready to release video footage of the alleged arsonist. The suspect is probably physically fit because he was able to scale an 8-foot chain-link fence to get onto the mansion grounds, he said.
Investigators have said video footage shows a suspect in the early morning hours of June 8, standing in front of the Governor's Mansion, igniting an object and throwing it onto the porch of the landmark, creating a fireball and blaze that ravaged the 152-year-old structure.
Experts say the historic landmark is salvageable and Gov. Rick Perry has said he's committed to restoring the mansion no matter the cost.
The Perrys had moved out of the mansion last fall for a renovation project estimated to cost $10 million. Antique furniture and other relics had been placed in storage.
The two-story Greek Revival-style house was completed in 1856.