Oakland Ghost Ship Operators Built a Deathtrap, Prosecutors Say
Harris is accused of renting the upstairs to a dance party promoter on the night of the fire. Almena, 47, and Harris, 27, have been charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fire, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley held a news conference in the Bay Area yesterday, where she said that Almena and Harris “knowingly created a fire trap with inadequate means of escape”. Almena and Max Harris, another man who organized the event, were each charged Monday with three dozen counts of involuntary manslaughter.
One of the men arrested in the deadly Ghost Ship fire, Derick Almena, was transferred to the Alameda County Jail Monday night. “Almena’s and Harris’ actions were reckless, creating a high risk of death”, O’Malley said at the press conference.
In an initial court appearance, a Lake County judge set bail at $1.8 million.
“We believe these charges represent no less than a miscarriage of justice, and we are confident that this attempt to make a scapegoat out of our client will fail”, they said.
Danielle Boudreaux said she was friends with Almena and his wife for eight years before they had a falling out over conditions at the warehouse.
At her news conference yesterday, O’Malley condemned Almena’s role in allowing the space to be used for habitation and large gatherings of people: “The paying guests at the event were faced with a almost impossible labyrinth of the defendants’ making”.
Along with master tenant Derick Almena, Max Harris – who also lived at the Ghost Ship and sometimes collected rent for Almena – was also arrested and criminally charged Monday.
Dan Horowitz, a longtime criminal defense attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area who is not involved in the case, said it would be more hard to convict Ng than the others who have been charged.
Eva Ng didn’t return a phone message Tuesday.
Firefighters and other city officials also were called to the property and adjacent buildings. I-Team Reporter Dan Noyes got tipped to the arrest early Monday morning from neighbors who saw it go down.
“… Because they send a clear message: you won’t get away with making a profit by cramming people into unsafe spaces or failing to maintain safe living conditions”.
O’Malley said Almena and Harris “very purposefully allowed floor-to-ceiling quantities of highly flammable materials.that created a deadly and risky space”. In one police officer body camera obtained by this news agency, Almena is seen telling an officer in 2014 that no one lives at the warehouse. File – In this December 3, 2016 file image from video provided by KGO-TV shows the Ghost Ship Warehouse after a fire swept through the Oakland, Calif., building.
File – In this December 3, 2016 file image from video provided by KGO-TV shows the Ghost Ship Warehouse after a fire swept through the Oakland, Calif., building.
It’s unclear if Ng knew of that investigation, and inspectors noted they had yet to enter the building to check out the complaint before the deadly fire.