The AT&T store on Highway 16 in Graham remains closed today after a fire broke out Tuesday morning.
According to a press release from the Graham Police Department, “Graham Police officers spent all day investigating a suspicious fire reported at the AT&T Store located in the 2100 block of Texas Highway 16 on Tuesday. The Graham Fire Department had responded to a fire reported in the building at 8:55 a.m., and soon after extinguishing the fire, notified Graham Police Officers assisting with traffic control that the fire appeared to be intentionally set.”
Investigators Jim Reeves, Jeff Smith and Richard Ferguson began a criminal investigation immediately upon arriving at the scene, and soon after a call was placed to the Texas Fire Marshall's office for further assistance. The Texas Rangers also joined the investigation.
“It was apparent that the fire was intentionally set as soon as fire and police entered the building,” Graham Chief of Police Tony Widner reported. Widner added that investigators quickly secured the scene, and through investigation and questioning of people at the scene, determined items had been stolen and were able to quickly identify a suspect.
The suspect, now identified as David Allen Plowman, 24, of Graham, confessed to the burglary and the fire soon after being interviewed by law enforcement, saying that he set the fire to cover the burglary.
Plowman was arrested for burglary of a building and arson, and was transported to the Young County Jail and bond was set at $10,000.00 for the Burglary and $15,000.00 for the Arson.
“What the criminal element in our area hasn't learned yet is that when they set a fire, they are leaving more evidence at the scene to help us determine who they are and eventually arrest them,” Widner said. “They are also ending up with the felony charge of Arson.”
Police investigators, working with the Fire department and the Texas Fire Marshall and the Texas Rangers, have been very successful in determining the cause and identifying the suspect, Widner said, adding that the last three fires that were intentionally set have resulted in arrests for the charge of Arson.
“Arson is a second degree felony, while the burglary was a lesser offense, a stat jail felony,” Widner explained. “Arson is a serious offense, and not only destroys private property but puts innocent lives at risk. People who set these fires have no idea if the fire will spread to areas where people live or may be working. This is a serious crime and we will pursue the offender and work with the District Attorney to prosecute this to the fullest extent possible.”
An AT&T representative in Bridgeport was reached Wednesday morning.
“There was a terrible fire at that location, and we're handling their business for the time being,” the representative said. “We're hoping to have that store up and running within a month.”
The AT&T representative said that she could not comment further on related matters, including what will happen to the employees of the Graham AT&T location.
Widner credited the quick arrest and closure of this case to the investigators and officers on scene.
“Investigators Reeves, Smith and Ferguson did an outstanding job on this investigation and all the property that was stolen was recovered,” he said.