LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

FORT WORTH -- In a joint news conference Wednesday, Fort Worth police and fire investigators announced the arrest of the man accused of fire-bombing the West 7th Street office of State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat.

Cedric Steele, 40, is behind bars at the Fort Worth Jail. He is charged with arson and his bond is set at $50,000.

Steele has a history of homelessness and petty crimes.

Police said they arrested Steele late Tuesday night after recognizing his description when they saw him in the Camp Bowie area.

Police said they found key evidence in the building where he has been spending his nights. Police found wicks and lighter fluid believed to be what was used to make the firebombs thrown at Davis's office.

Steele had shown up at Sen. Davis' office last Friday and again on Monday, asking to see the lawmaker, according to police. Davis was not there at the time. Police said he told staffers: You'll be hearing about me in the news soon.

According to police, Steele showed up for a third time late Tuesday afternoon and threw two firebombs at the doors of Davis' third floor office. The flames reached waist high.

One staffer inside grabbed an extinguisher and put out the fire. Another staffer jumped over the flames to escape harm. Davis was not there at the time, and no one was hurt.

On Wednesday, Davis said this incident reminds her of how vulnerable her staff is while serving the public. Davis said she is working with the Department of Public Safety to make sure every possible measure is being considered to keep her staff safe.

Davis also said this incident is a reminder of how vulnerable some people can be to what's become a divisive political climate with a lot of rhetoric. At the same time, Davis said she will not back down on potentially controversial stands on subjects like women's health care cuts and redistricting.

Police said they do not believe yesterday's fire-bombing was politically motivated. They believe it was a single act committed by mentally unstable man.

Sometimes when he's walking, it looks like he's talking to himself, said Clinton Jefferson, who said he saw Steele walking nearly everyday.

So did lots of people around the vacant house on Donnelly Street where Steele was squatting.

He'd be around here 24/7 because everyone was giving him money, Jefferson said.

Another man in the neighborhood said he's heard Steele talking about demons.

They know Steele too well at the 7-Eleven down the block. News 8 showed employees a picture of Steele, and the manager quickly recognized him.

I caught him sleeping behind the dumpster one day, said store manager Debbie Elliott. He had spread him some boxes out, laid down and went to sleep. I'm like, 'Buddy, you've got to go.'

He's also known at the Starbucks on Camp Bowie, where he would panhandle and hand out poetry. Security guards said he was a constant nuisance.

However, nobody we talked to thought Steele was dangerous, except maybe to himself. When police tracked him down, about 24 hours after he allegedly left the firebomb, Steele talked about aliens in his rafters.

He's just a homeless guy, Jefferson said. Who needs some help.

Police said this incident has prompted the department to reacquaint themselves with all office holders in the area to remind them of their vulnerability and what course of action they should take to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Meanwhile, back at Davis's West 7th Street office in Fort Worth, maintenance crews got an early start making repairs on the third floor Wednesday morning.

Davis said she intends to continue business as usual there.

E-mail cvega@wfaa.com

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/2014/08/15/13853972/