Person of interest in park blaze is former volunteer firefighter

September 17, 2011 4:49:26 PM PDT
Three fires have burned at George Bush Park in west Houston this past week. The most recent one looks like it may have been started intentionally.

We told you on Friday about a person of interest police questioned after he was found in the park wearing full fire gear -- including a helmet and gloves belonging to the Houston Fire Department -- and riding a four-wheeler.

Saturday, we learned more about Lonnie Ray Henderson.

Henderson, 30, is charged with impersonating a public figure. He has not confessed to setting any of the fires, officials said.

David Tidwell knows Henderson well. They used to live under the same roof.

"He had everyone convinced that he was a soldier in the army. And on his Facebook page there pictures of him in an Army-issued uniform. The hat, the boots," Tidwell said. "He was never really in the Army."

Henderson is now in custody, being questioned by arson investigators for his ties to the fires at George Bush Park.

He claimed he reported the fires and was helping to put them out. Henderson never worked for HFD, but he did used to work as a volunteer firefighter with the West I-10 VFD.

Chief James Dillon won't say much, citing an ongoing investigation, but he assured us all of their members go through a background check, drug testing and interviews before being voted on as a member.

He says Henderson hasn't worked for West I-10 in more than a year.

"He did return his equipment from us," Dillon said.

Authorities won't confirm if he was fired or quit. We tracked down Henderson's home. Attached, we found his work place: Houston Slot Machines.

His ATV is parked outside. His truck still displays a firefighting certificate, dated June 2010.

The road he lives on leads directly to the north entrance of George Bush Park.

It's all too much of a coincidence for Tidwell, who is waiting to hear what arson investigators will reveal about the man they're calling a person of interest.

"He always wanted to be the center of attention and nobody liked it," Tidwell said.

Load Comments