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Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
Fort Worth police have arrested 40-year-old Cedric Steele in connection with an attack on Sen. Wendy Davis' Fort Worth office.
Fort Worth police have arrested a man in connection with Tuesday night's attack on Sen. Wendy Davis' West Seventh office.
In a news conference Wednesday, officials said Cedric Steele, 40, was arrested on a charge of arson of a building and is being held on $50,000 bond after allegedly igniting bottles filled with an accelerant in the hallway outside of the senator's office door.
When ignited, those devices started a small fire before being extinguished by two staff members who were inside the office at the time of the attack.
Police said that witness reports and evidence at the scene led them to Steele, who was determined to be living in a vacant building in the 5600 block of Donnelly. Inside that residence officers found wicks, an empty can of lighter fluid and other items they believe were used to carry out the attack.
Additionally, officials said Steele previously visited Davis' office twice on March 16 and 19, demanding to speak with the senator.According to the arrest affidavit, Steele wanted to discuss a Tazing incident in Michigan. He then left an unknown part of an animal stating it was a new species and the senator needed to see it.
Davis wasn't in the office and staff members said an upset Steele told them that they would soon read about him on the news.
After the incident, Steele was arrested after he was located in the parking lot of a convenience store in the 6000 block of Camp Bowie Boulevard. He told the arresting officer of an alien species and said he had more remains in the rafter of a vacant residence on Donnelly.
Davis said Wednesday that she hopes Steele is able to get whatever help he needs.
"That would be my hope for this individual," she said. "It sounds like he had a very productive life at one time, and I know his family is deeply concerned about him, and they want him to have that kind of intense treatment."
Following the attack on her office Tuesday night, Davis was placed in the protective custody of the Department of Public Safety for about four hours.
"I want to say, of course, a very special thank you this morning for the quick action the intelligent and thoughtful response from the Fort Worth Police Department and the Fort Worth Fire Department. Working together, they did something quite remarkable less than 24 hours after this incident occurred," Davis said. "They have done superior work and have demonstrated once again why we call them Fort Worth's finest."
In the news conference Wednesday, Davis called on fellow politicians to bring an end to vitriolic political rhetoric used in campaigning as it exposes politicians and campaign workers to potential violence as they try to serve the citizens of their community.
"It's a reminder for all of us that people who are working on behalf of constituents ... are particularly vulnerable and are being placed at risk. It's especially incumbent upon us to remember ... that when we demonize people who are in political roles and we invite responses that are unreasonable, these are the types of things that can occur," Davis said. "We could be standing here today telling a very different story had they [law enforcement] not reacted as well as they did."
Davis also said the attack underscores the importance of continued support of community mental health programs whose services are often underfunded or cut during tough economic times.
"The importance of our mental health community, our mental health services cannot be understated. These are very real issues that must be addressed and shouldn't be the first thing that the budgetary pen slashes when we go through difficult times. There are consequences not only to that person who needs assistance but also to people who may be vulnerable as a consequence of a person who hasn't had the health services that they need," Davis said. "Sometimes people who may or may not have the mental faculties that you or I have may respond to incendiary comments about issues that's not as reasonable as we would hope."
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is expected to get involved in the investigation and, because the target is an elected official, more charges could be filed.
NBC 5's Ben Russell and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.