Someone tried to kill me this morning.
As controversial as i sometimes am, this does not happen often. In fact it has never happened until today. There is a story, of course, and i am going to tell it to you.
At moments after 5 AM this morning i smelled smoke. I had been sitting with the door open in the conspiracy office in the middle of Acorn’s main building, Heartwood. I jumped out of the office and there was a fire burning right outside the dishwashing area, which was less than 10 feet from where i was sitting. As i looked around quickly for a fire extinguisher, i saw that there were three large gasoline containers on the floor of the building and someone had poured the fuel on the floor. I started screaming to wake people up.
I dragged the gas containers, which were still partially full, out of the kitchen/living room area and down the hall away from the blaze. As soon as i was sure other people were awake and getting people out of bed, i called 911 – it was 5:08 AM.
Unlike other life threatening emergencies, like a couple of car crashes i have been in, everything did not slow down around me as my adrenaline kicked in to survival mode. And despite the danger of the situation and the urgent need for action i felt somewhat calm. And even as i was fighting the fire with other responsive Acorners, i was thinking to myself “Who did this?”
We don’t have many enemies. Mostly, people are excited about the communities’ movement and want us to succeed. From the moment i saw the gas cans (which fortunately turned out to be diesel fuel cans, which burn quite slowly, unlike real gas cans – or especially, gasoline ignited in the movies), i suspected it was Nero.
Nero was a gregarious volunteer at the communities conference. He was a bit odd in manner, said things which did not always make sense. But he compensated for this with his generally pleasant manner and his willingness to work. Frankly, there are a fair few strange folks in community, and saying weird things occasionally is not a big red flag.
After the fire was extinguished by the fire department, i started looking for Nero. i found his tent which was partially open, despite the light rain – making me think he had run. Inside the tent there was a mostly empty backpack, several mattresses piled unevenly and clothes strewn about.
Nero was the only person unaccounted for in the 40 odd people who were sleeping at Acorn that night, further solidifying the circumstantial case against him. None of the cars were missing (and the keys are fairly accessible) nor was the cash box missing. As classical motives vanished, my fears that it was an “inside job” started to seem more real.
Nero had been struggling some the last week, his mania was amping up. And though i was not his Acorn host anymore, i felt some responsibility, because i asked him to come to Acorn after the community conference. We had a good long talk a few days ago. I told him if members were uncomfortable about him being around, i would have to ask him to leave. I said it several times and it was clear that he both agreed and supported such a choice.
Things seemed to get better after our talk. He was ranting less, listening a bit more. He did take a couple days off work, but he had worked so much in the previous 5 weeks, i was certainly not going to tell him to leave, since he was responding to constructive criticism. And i was a bit worried.
i wrote an informant about the fire, which specifies that there was no structural damage to the building and no one was hurt by the fire directly. But what haunted me through the day, even after Nero was apprehended, was the idea that i had helped Nero several times, including inviting him to come to Acorn, which he had really wanted. And then this early morning, he walked past my clearly visible back several time as i worked in the conspiracy office, placing inflammable liquids in the room beside me and then he set it on fire.
Update: Nerois under arrest for 3rd Degree Arson and one count of attempted murder (on me actually, perhaps because i was the first to give the police information). The maximum sentence for these two crime is life, the minimum is 20 years. He is being held in the Orange County jail, which is where i did tiny time for my local anti-nuclear arrest actions. He is being held without bond. His bond hearing is Tuesday and the state trooper said because he is a high flight risk and the crimes so serious, he is unlike to have a bail option. i have decidedly mixed feeling about Nero going to jail for a long time. What he did was messed up, and wasting his life in prison is a 3rd rate solution.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]