By Patti Weaver
(Stillwater, Okla.) — A 55-year-old homeless man has been jailed on $15,000 bail pending a Jan. 9 court appearance on a charge of setting fire to a dumpster at the Mission of Hope Shelter in Stillwater, six days before Christmas.
If convicted of third-degree arson, Monty Winston Walker could be given as much as a 15-year prison term and a $10,000 fine.
Walker was arrested at 2:50 am on Dec. 19 outside the Mission of Hope where a fire had been set to a dumpster, Stillwater Police Officer Christopher Boren wrote in an affidavit.
The officer had been parked at 2:06 am in the 200 block of S. Perkins Road while writing an arson report for a couple of dumpster fires at the strip mall in that block when he was sent to another dumpster fire at the Mission of Hope in the 1800 block of S. Perkins Road, his affidavit said.
“Upon my arrival, another officer and I attempted to knock down the fire with our fire extinguishers from our patrol vehicles. We were able to control it until SFD responded to extinguish the fire,” the officer wrote in his affidavit.
“After the fire was out, a Mission of Hope employee pointed me in the direction of a man that had tried to come stay there — but was on a 30-day trespass for violation of policy.
“I made contact with Monty Walker. I recognized him as an individual I had contacted at the beginning of the night in the 700 N. block of Perkins in front of Home Goods. I contacted him because he had a very small warming fire in front of him near one of the benches in front of the building.
“I told him to put it out and he gave me no issues. I even gave him one of the care packages a local church had provided for us to hand out,” the officer wrote in his affidavit.
Regarding the dumpster at the Mission of Hope, “I began asking Monty what he knew about the fire and how he had gotten from where I contacted him earlier in the night to now. Monty told me that he traveled south on Perkins Rd. stopping at both OnCues on his way. At first, Monty denied any involvement with any of the fires.
“I continued to ask him questions and informed him that the Mission of Hope had a camera pointed right at the dumpster, and that once we got that in the morning, we would be coming to find him if it was in fact him. I offered that we had been pleasant with each other tonight, and it would likely go easier if it was me that brought him in. Monty said, ‘yeah, you probably ought to arrest me.’
“I told Monty I could not arrest him for nothing. Monty then admitted to starting the fire at the Mission of Hope. He said he was pissed off…He continued to deny involvement in the fires at the 200 S. block of Perkins and said he did not know anything about those,” the officer alleged in his affidavit.