Oakland Art Space Founder Refuses to Answer Interview Questions as DA says Charges Are Possible in Blaze
"I'd rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents," Derick Almena said as he was asked questions by the "Today" show Tuesday.
Anger continues to rage as the man who founded the “Ghost Ship” artists’ colony, where 36 people lost their lives in a warehouse inferno, tries to distance himself from any blame.
Derick Almena spoke to the Today show outside the Oakland warehouse Tuesday morning in a volatile interview.
“I didn’t do anything ever in my life that would lead me up to this moment. I’m an honorable man. I’m a proud man,” he said. “No, I’m not going to answer these questions on this level. I’d rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents. I’d rather let them tear at my flesh than answer these ridiculous questions. I’m so sorry. I’m incredibly sorry."
The 47-year-old leased the space and was asked by Today show host Matt Lauer if he should be held accountable for the 36 lives that were lost during a party at the warehouse over the weekend.
“Should I be held accountable? Did I build something? What am I going to say to that? Should I be held accountable? I can barely stand here right now,” he told Lauer. “I laid my body down there every night. We laid our children to bed there every night. We made music. We created art. It became our home.”
Almena emotionally said he opened the space for those who “can’t pay your rent because your dream is bigger than your pocketbook.”
He claimed the building had the proper permits and was “supposedly” up to city standards.
On Monday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in a press conference that investigations into the blaze are continuing and it is “too early to speculate” about charges and her office has has not yet determined whether a crime even occurred. She said potential charges could range from involuntary manslaughter to murder.
O’Malley said that the charges against Almena could range from involuntary manslaughter to murder.
“We just started our investigation, and we owe it to the community and those who perished in this fire, and those who survived the fire to be methodical, to be thorough, and to take the amount of time it takes to be able to look at every piece of potential evidence."
Almena's wife, Micah Allison, 40, broke down in tears talking about the disaster to NBC News Monday night.
She said that she “can’t explain who I am anymore.”
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