• November 25, 2014

Gateway fire an arson, authorities say

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Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 10:43 pm, Thu Sep 27, 2012.

The fire that swept through Gateway Middle School Sept. 22 was labeled an arson by authorities.

A news release from the Killeen Police and Fire Department Monday stated the fire was the result of arson.

“Looking at the (fire’s) area of origin and its behavior indicated that it was a suspicious fire,” said J.D. Gardner, Killeen’s fire chief.

Gardner also said the department brought in a special K-9 unit, which was trained to recognize the scent of accelerants.

The release also stated that investigators are looking to speak with a “person of interest” who was last seen climbing a fence behind the school at the time of the fire. The person is described as a Hispanic male possibly in his late 20s or early 30s.

Witnesses described the man as about 6 feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds. He was seen wearing a yellow shirt with dark-colored pants, according to the release.

Gardner said the description of the man was taken from witnesses, as well as video.

The fire, which took firefighters nearly two hours to contain, destroyed the school’s offices. Other buildings sustained some fire, smoke and water damage.

Despite the weekend blaze, classes for Gateway’s students resumed Monday without interruption. According to a statement from the Killeen Independent School District, Gateway High School students attended classes as usual while Gateway Middle School students were relocated to the district’s old Career Center/Pathways complex located at 3004 Atkinson Ave. in Killeen.

According to a statement on the district’s website, the Gateway Middle School facility will not be operational for the foreseeable future. The website also indicated that the district’s board of trustees will receive an update on Gateway Middle School at a workshop meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday.

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