posted August 26, 2007
General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said the man charged with setting a fire in a downtown hotel is "an unwelcome undesirable" illegal alien.
Judge Moon told Bario Gomez, "Undesirables like you are not welcome in this country. You are a Latino terrorist who entered this country illegally and soon plotted significant personal injury and damage to the people and businesses in our community."
Authorities said Gomez is an illegal alien with no proof of identification. Officials also said he gave police a false name.
The INS placed a hold on Gomez, 20, after charges of aggravated arson and aggravated vandalism were filed against him.
Judge Moon told him, "It is undesirables like you who create many unjustifiable problems and prejudices upon the good people who enter this country legally in chasing a dream for a better life for themselves and their families.
"Mr. Gomez, you nor any other citizen from a foreign land has a right to enter this country; you simply have a privilege to enter this country through the proper legal channels.
"You are a domestic terrorist who is an imminent threat to the safety of our people and their property. You are also a supreme flight risk from justice. It is with duty, comfort and ease that I increase your bond significantly in an appropriate amount to insure your appearance in further proceedings and to insure the safety of this community."
The bond was raised from $30,000 to $1 million. The previous bond was set by Magistrate James Purple, which Judge Moon described as "another ludicrously low bond."
According to Arson Investigator James Whitmire, Gomez checked into the hotel with his girlfriend. Testimony by Whitmire and management officials indicated that Gomez placed a toaster filled with matches in a microwave oven in his room intending a massive "delayed burn."
Proof also showed that multiple towels were stuffed into the toilet in order to retard the water supply. The hotel manager testified that the towels were stuffed so deeply that the pipes had to be disassembled to remove them. She also stated that the room was severely damaged and vandalized.
Capt. Whitmire testified that "hundreds of people were evacuated, including children."
He said, "If the fire had established itself many families and children would have most likely lost their lives or been severely injured. Being on the fourth floor, the fire would have been difficult to contain."