McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

June 22, 2012

DA amends attempted murder charge in arson case

McALESTER — The District 18 District Attorney’s Office motioned to amend an attempted first degree murder charge to assault and battery with intent to kill in an arson case.

On June 14, Max Albert McElroy, 58, McAlester, appeared in Pittsburg County District Court on charges of attempted murder and arson. McElroy was charged with the counts in May and, in a separate case, he was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine) and domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor.

During his court appearance, the state motioned to amend the attempted murder charge to assault with the intent to kill.

According to court records, McElroy allegedly told police that he used methamphetamine at around 6:30 a.m. on May 7. He then allegedly threw a cup of hot coffee on his niece, Lindsey Lorene Chelleberg, while she was holding her three-week old baby.

McElroy was later arrested for domestic assault and, when talking with police, he allegedly expressed his “severe dislike” for his niece’s husband, Johnnie Chellberg Jr., and his father, Johnnie Chellberg Sr., according to court records.

While police were interviewing McElroy about the domestic abuse incident, McAlester Police Det. Brant Gamble was investigating an arson call from Chellberg Sr.’s residence. “Someone had thrown molotov cocktails at Johnnie Sr.’s house and started a fire. Johnnie Sr. was able to extinguish the fire with a water hose and was not injured.”

McElroy was then interviewed by authorities regarding the arson case. “Gamble asked (McElroy) what he had done with the molotov cocktail(s) that Max (McElroy) made and Max (McElroy) said he had thrown them at Johnnie Chellberg Sr.’s house,” a police affidavit states. “Max (McElroy) said he thought he threw about a half dozen of them at the house. ... Max (McElroy) said that he had gone to (a friend’s) house to get a rifle to kill Johnnie Sr. but remembered that he had sold the gun, so he went to (a local gas station) and filled 2 red 1 gallon gas cans, bought a box (12) of fruit jars at Walmart and made molotov cocktails with the intent of burning down Johnnie Sr.’s home with him in it, in order to kill Johnnie Sr.”

According to this same affidavit, McElroy allegedly told police, “I haven’t been back to the house, but I hope it burned down with Johnnie Sr. in it.”

Contact Rachel Petersen at

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