Suicide-by-Cop Couple Charged with Arson: ‘They’re Not Having Our Sweat, Blood and Tears’
SAN ANGELO, TX – Three weeks ago today, 67-year-old Gary Wright made a phone call to David Wagner with KLST and KSAN and told him to get his cameras ready. He said he was about to have a stand-off with San Angelo Police.
This stand-off was part of a plan made with his wife, Brenda Wright. The two, in their statements to police, said they were “dissatisfied over how a recent traffic accident had been investigated.” They said, “This was the last straw.”
Unfortunately for the Wrights, not only did they not succeed in killing officers, but they now face two first-degree felony arson charges that will add to their final years behind bars if found guilty by a trial of their peers. The couple set their house on fire to get police out to their residence (see our previous stories here and here).
Yesterday, the Fire Marshal’s Office officially filed the arson charges against the Wrights, which details in depth the real reasons behind the couple’s actions.
Fire Marshal Ross Coleman said, “We knew during the course of the investigation that we had an intentionally set fire; and, it was a combination of our investigative efforts on the scene and interviewing both the husband and wife that gave us our final conclusions.”
The Filed Arson Complaints and Interviews with the Wrights
Mr. Gary Wright
According to the complaints filed by Coleman in the Tom Green County Justice Court, Wright, on or about Jan. 13, 2017, “intentionally and knowingly” started a fire by pouring gasoline into a hole in the floor of the house, which leads down into the basement.
The intent was to “damage or destroy” the residence located at 1205 E. 21st St. This intent was also “reckless” because the burning or explosion endangered the life of others, or the safety of the property of another.
For the second charge, the complaint also emphasized that “an exposure to this fire” resulted “in fire and heat damage to the property of another.”
In addition to the charges, the complaint details the interview with the Wrights. Gary Wright admitted to Fire Marshal Coleman that he “intentionally set fire” to his residence to attract public safety officials and engage the police in a “suicide by cop” scenario.
“The fire destroyed the home,” read the complaint.
During an interview on Jan. 25, 2017 at Shannon Medical Center, Mr. Wright informed Coleman that he and his wife “were fed up with life, behind on their mortgage and had no more money.”
“He stated that he started the fire by pouring gasoline into a small square-shaped hole in the floor, which led to the basement where pillows were stacked,” said the complaint.
Mr. Wright then stated that he struck a few matches and dropped them in the hole to ignite the gasoline doused pillows.
“Mr. Wright informed [Coleman] that he had placed gasoline bombs as diversionary measures in the home,” the complaint detailed. “Mr. Wright also indicated that he had placed multiple containers filled with gasoline to help spread the fire.”
Mr. Wright also said he had his wife Brenda started planning the fire around Thanksgiving.
Mrs. Brenda Wright
According to the complaints, Mrs. Wright faces the same two charges of Arson as her husband. She reaffirmed that she and her husband began planning to intentionally set fire to their residence on 21st St. in “an attempt to attract public safety officials and engage them in a “suicide by cop” scenario.
This filed complaint also explained how a neighboring home suffered fire and heat damage as a result of the arson.
“During an interview with Mrs. Wright on Jan. 17, 2017 at the Tom Green County Jail, Mrs. Wright informed [Coleman] that she and her husband felt like there ‘wasn’t a level playing field’ in life and that they had been planning since Thanksgiving to start their house on fire and have a confrontation with public safety,” the complaint said.
Mrs. Wright further detailed that she was placed in the bathtub of the restroom and was armed with a shotgun to keep watch on the back of the house while her husband set fire to the home.
“Mrs. Wright stated that she did not know specifically where he started the fire, but that it moved quickly,” the complaint continued. “She stated that she knew of the gasoline containers, gasoline bombs and aerosol cans. She stated that ‘property is fair; they can have the property, but they’re not having our sweat, blood and tears.”
As stated previously, Mr. Wright, during his interview, indicated he and his wife were being evicted for not making payments on their mortgage.
In regards to this incident and the details that have emerged, Coleman told LIVE! this case with the Wrights isn’t necessarily “unique,” but that it’s different because of the joint effort to burn down the home by the couple.
Coleman also said, due to the delayed response because of the shooting, “we were lucky nobody succumbed to burn injuries, and/or other serious conditions.”
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