Man Indicted For Arson After Local Hotel Fire

By: Paul J. Gately Email
By: Paul J. Gately Email

KILLEEN (July 25, 2013)—A Killeen man was indicted Wednesday for arson in connection with a hotel fire that officials started as a result of a methamphetamine production operation.

Benjamin Haskell Copeland, 34, who shows an address on Huntsman Circle, in Killeen, was listed on the Bell County Jail Log as being held on a parole violation warrant without bond.

If convicted of the second-degree felony, Copeland could face up to 20 years in state prison.

Julius Emaniel King, 28, who shows an address on Swipe Drive in Killeen, was arrested at the same time but his name did not appear on the grand jury list.

King does appear on the jail log where he was ordered held on a $100,000 bond charged with arson and without bond on a parole violation.

Both men were arrested in connection with the May 2 fire at the High Five Inn, 609 South W.S. Young Dr.

Officials evacuated the hotel and a nearby commercial building after the firefighters discovered a suspicious substance while investigating the room from which smoke was coming.

An Emergency Ordnance Disposal team from Fort Hood was sent to the hotel.

Killeen Fire Chief J.D. Gardner reported that the Fort Hood EOD team determined the substance was not any type of explosive, but because the substance could not immediately be identified, the scene was being classified as hazardous.

According to an arrest affidavit firefighters smelled chlorine in the smoke that was coming from the room.

Inside the room they found aluminum foil, starter fluid, chlorine tablets in a plastic bag, acetone, a bottle of brake fluid, a paper medical mask, plastic gloves, and a glass coffee carafe, which had been placed in the sink with ice around it, the affidavit said.

Firefighters determined that a violent chemical reaction resulted, which caused heat damage to the carafe and the surrounding kitchenette area, the affidavit said.

Two identification cards for King were found in the room and the hotel manager confirmed to police he had confronted King and another man outside the room when the smoke became noticeable, the affidavit said.

The manager also provided security video of the two men running in and out of the room while the smoke was coming out.

The affidavit says officers talked with an employee at the Family Dollar store located nearby who said she remembered King coming into the store to purchase aluminum foil earlier that day.

The employee also showed officers security video of King in the store along with another man, the affidavit said.

Officers were able to determine the two men were also the same men in the video from the High Five Inn, the affidavit said.

In June officers met with King who said he'd been living in the room at the High Five Inn.

He told them on the day of the fire call he'd been in the room with a man he had met in prison whose last name was Copeland, aka "Big Zoe," the affidavit said.

Officers later went to the O'Reilly's Auto Supply in Killeen and found a May 2 receipt from Benjamin Copeland for brake fluid and starter fluid.


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