'Mack' speaks out on Gallery fire arrest

July 29, 2009 9:02:32 PM PDT
Jim McIngvale, the owner of Gallery Furniture, sounded off about the former employee charged with torching his life's work. "Mattress Mack" didn't have a whole lot to say Tuesday, but more than a day after the arrest, he pulled no punches. [READ IT: Probable cause document]
[PHOTOS: See images from the blaze]

Documents from the Harris County District Attorney's Office said Robert Gillham set the fire, because he was angry at McIngvale.

"It's very difficult because he tried to burn down my life's work and the livelihood of all these people here," said McIngvale.

It is a side of Mattress Mack most have never seen, but considering what's contained in this probable cause, you might understand the anger.

"It's demented and it's strange. It's sad, it's sad that a human being would do that and hold that much resentment," said McIngvale. "I've done a lot for that guy."

According to the report, ex-employee Robert Gillham allegedly went to great lengths to hurt the well-known store owner. Gillham told at least one co-worker that "he wanted to burn the Gallery Furniture store because he was angry at Jim McIngvale."

The report states he asked one employee if he'd burn the store for $3,000 to $4,000, and that he told another worker, if he didn't burn the store, could he help him find someone who would.

"As far as him asking people to burn down the building, I wasn't aware of that. I imagine the people he said it to were so shocked they thought it had to be a joke," said McIngvale.

In the report, Gillham's girlfriend claims he stated, "he wanted to burn the store with gasoline," saying he wanted to do it "on a Thursday because could get in and out of the store" and because "he knew where the cameras were." The report also stated that on May 21, Gillham borrowed her car and left for 45 minutes. When he returned, he told her, "I'm okay, it's done."

"It damaged my pocketbook and my psyche, but it really hurt a lot of our employees and that's what I'm most angry about," McIngvale said.

McIngvale said what troubles him most is that up until his termination, he treated Gillham with respect, providing him doctors for a sight problem he had. He even paid for a trip for his family.

"I sent him and his daughter on a seven day cruise to Alaska and he turns around and does that," said McIngvale.

McIngvale said he's working on forgiving Gillham, but, it's not easy, considering what was lost, allegedly over someone's hate for him.

Gillham is being held at the Montgomery County jail. A court date has been set for Gillham Thursday morning in Harris County. We are told he will not appear.

According to the DA's office he could be transported back and forth to Harris County while his cases unfold.

The above excerpts are from a multiple page document. You can read more details in the full document here.

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