Skip to main content

Updated: Mentally Ill Man Faces Arson Charge in Attack on Davis' Office

A mentally unstable man has been charged with throwing a bag filled with six Molotov cocktails at the door of the Fort Worth office of state Sen. Wendy Davis.

Sen. Wendy Davis D-Fort Worth on the Senate floor May 23rd, 2011

Update, March 21, 2:30 p.m.:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has pledged his assistance to ensure the firebombing attack on Sen. Wendy Davis' office is investigated and prosecuted. "We strongly condemn the cowardly attack," Abbott said in a statement. "Incidents like the fire bomb attack have no place in the democratic process."

Update, March 21, 11:10 a.m.:

A mentally unstable man has been charged with throwing a bag filled with six Molotov cocktails at the door of the Fort Worth office of state Sen. Wendy Davis

Police officials said at a press conference Wednesday that 40-year-old Cedric Steele has been charged with arson of a building. Federal authorities may choose to pursue other charges, police said. 

Steele had previously visited Davis' office on Friday and Monday asking to speak with the senator and at one point had promised Davis' staff that they would hear about him in the news, police said.

After being arrested at a convenience store parking lot Tuesday evening, Steele told police he had wanted to speak to Davis about "a tazing incident that occurred in Michigan," according to the affidavit. He also spoke to the police about "an alien species."

Neither Davis nor police would comment on whether Steele was motivated by her position on any issue.

Davis said she hoped the incident reminded people to tone down the rhetoric. "Certainly there have been some reports of candidate forums where particular vitriolic statements have been directed at me," she said.

Davis also said the incident highlights the danger of cutting funding for mental health services. "The importance of our mental health services cannot be understated," Davis said.

Update, 7:25 p.m.:

Anthony Spangler, a spokesman for state Sen. Wendy Davis, said that at 4 p.m. two women were working in Davis' Fort Worth office when they heard a loud thud. The fire alarm quickly went off.

They opened a door to find a pile of Molotov cocktails on fire. A staffer grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the waist-high flames.

Spangler said police have interviewed witnesses but don't know who was behind the attack. 

"It is impossible to speculate” on whether it is politically motivated, he said. “The staffers are obviously very shaken up by the incident.”


Original report:

Police in Fort Worth this evening are searching for a suspect in the firebombing the office of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, according to local news reports. 

Watch WFAA-TV's video and see photos of the scene below. 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

Quality journalism doesn't come free

Yes, I'll donate today