Homeless Man Starts Fire Inside Norman City Hall
NORMAN, Oklahoma - On Thursday, Norman fire investigators were able to help charge a man in connection to an arson case at City Hall.
On February 21st, city officials say 37-year old Richard Thomas Sparks walked into the handicap stall of the men’s bathroom to take a make-shift shower.
They believe while he has family in Norman, Sparks is homeless and was maybe even trying to wash his clothes.
Surveillance shows he was in the bathroom for close to two hours, and even captured moments leading up to the fire.
“Comes to the doorway of the bathroom, almost looks outside to see if the coast is clear, goes back into the bathroom and only a matter of seconds later, quickly moving back out of the bathroom,” says Sarah Jensen Norman Public Information Officer.
Firefighters said it appeared he started the fire in the handicap stall, and then stuffed the burning debris in the trash. Within seconds, witnesses said Sparks was seen by the city attorney.
Investigators said Sparks mentioned there was a fire in the bathroom, and as he walked away, the city attorney rushed in to put out the flames.
“It appears that the individual took some cotton towels, that he had brought into bathroom, along with toilet paper, a lit that on fire. Looking to create possibly a bigger fire,” says Jensen.
In court documents, Sparks reportedly told investigators he did have a lighter and a torch.
Sparks was not arrested until today.
Investigators reviewed the video evidence to make sure no one else could be responsible before making the arrest.
They add, if other employees hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, this could have been much worse.
“This is a business where there are a lot of offices, a lot of people in and out, if that fire would have gone unnoticed it would be significant,” Jensen says.
The biggest mystery in all of this is why Sparks would start the fire, but officials said he does have a criminal history.