• Fire fighters battle the huge blaze at Turner Hall on Sunday, June 19. Police say they have evidence a break-in preceded the fire. - Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

Suspect pegged in dance hall blaze

Police have unnamed ‘person of interest;’ accomplice not ruled out

Criminal charges await the return of further evidence for a June 19 fire that destroyed the historic Turner Hall, a favorite social hall for generations of Fredericksburg residents.

Fredericksburg Police Chief Steve Wetz said Tuesday afternoon a “person of interest” had been identified, but a name was not released, pending the return of evidence. Wetz also said the possibility of involvement by other individuals had not been ruled out.

“We are not quite ready to list a suspect at this point. We have to wait until we get evidence back from the lab to feel a little more confident in what we’re saying,” Wetz told the Standard-Radio Post on Tuesday before press deadline.

Wetz said the police found evidence of a break-in before the fire.

“We do know the building was burglarized before the fire,” he said, “and the fire marshal has ruled out an electrical cause.”

Wetz said the department was proceeding cautiously to try and connect the evidence to their suspect.

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office, Fredericksburg Police Department and the Fredericksburg Volunteer Fire Department began investigations on Monday, June 20 after the fire.

Investigators from the state office released the scene on Wednesday and evidence was collected and sent to the Texas Department of Insurance labs and to the Texas Department of Public Safety for analysis.

Wetz said that although the fire marshal still lists the fire as “undetermined,” the police department found evidence through its own investigation that someone entered Turner Hall before the fire to commit a theft.

“It is believed that this person ignited the fire,” stated a news release from the police department on Tuesday.

Last week, police had looked into potential connections between the fire and other incidents on Sunday night.

Members of the Turner Hall will meet at 6 p.m. today, Wednesday, June 29, at the Golden Hub to discuss the organization’s future after the fire.

Fire

Fredericksburg Volunteer Fire Department, with assistance from area rural departments, were dispatched to the blaze at 103 W. Travis St. at 10:38 p.m. Sunday, June 19. Fredericksburg Police Department was also alerted to the blaze.

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