McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

May 10, 2013

Man charged in church fire case

McALESTER — A McAlester man who said he was “worshiping God” when his truck caught fire has been charged with first-degree arson in connection with a fire which destroyed a Kiowa church.

Barry Leon Mitchell, 46, of McAlester was charged with one count of first degree arson in Pittsburg County District Court on Tuesday in connection with a Monday night fire that destroyed the Fellowship Worship Church in Kiowa.

Mitchell was watching the firefighters battle the blaze as he spoke to the News-Capital Monday night before his arrest.

“I was sitting in my truck worshiping God and then the flames just came up,” Mitchell said.

Six fire departments, more than 15 fire trucks and 30 firefighters from Kiowa, Pittsburg, Savanna, Blanco, Savanna, McAlester and the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, battled the blaze for more than five hours, according to Kiowa Fire Chief Patrick Johnson.

The fire is being investigated by the state fire marshal and the building was a total loss, with estimated damage more than $150,000, Johnson said.

According to a signed court affidavit, Pastor Linda Snider and her husband, Kenneth Snider, arrived at the church about 8:15 p.m. to gather groceries for a needy family.

 When they drove up, they noticed a pickup truck parked near front of the church with the hood of the truck under the porch, according to the affidavit.

 The couple said they thought the truck belonged to roofers who were installing a new roof on the church building earlier that day.

When the couple was about to leave they heard what sounded like a gunshot and saw the truck was on fire, the report states.

According to the affidavit, the pastor said she went to call the fire department and when she returned to the front of the church, “the truck had exploded into flames.”

The couple exited out of a rear door and Kenneth Snider used a back hoe to pull the truck away from the church, the affidavit states.

 By the time the truck was pulled away, the fire had already spread to the church building, according to the affidavit.

Meanwhile, Johnson said when he arrived at the scene soon after 9 p.m. the entire building was engulfed in flames and the roof had caved in.

Mitchell was being held early Thursday on $100,000 bond at the Pittsburg County Criminal Justice Center.

If convicted of the charge against him, Mitchell faces fines of up to $25,000 or imprisonment for up to 35 years, or both.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • 4 20 HolyWeekSun 1.jpg Edwards: Spread the Good News on Easter — and every day

    It starts with us.
    McAlester Attorney Tony Edwards, of Lakewood Christian Church, delivered that message to well over 100 men and boys who attended the last of the Men’s Holy Week Breakfasts served Saturday morning at the First Baptist Church in McAlester.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Rogers, Webber, ready for hearing on Webber's candidacy for District 1

    Former District 1 Pittsburg County Commissioner Bill Webber says he plans to be at the Pittsburg County Courthouse this week for a hearing to decide if he can run again for his former post.

    April 19, 2014

  • Council to consider city water plant's future: Karr to take Ward 4 seat

    City councilors are set to again consider letting a privately-owned company take over the operations of the McAlester Water Treatment Plant.
    It’s among the items on the agenda when the city council meets in regular session at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall.

    April 19, 2014

  • Powers: Good Friday, then and now

    Chris Powers, of First United Methodist Church, spoke Friday about the meaning of Good Friday —what it meant to the people of Jesus’ day, and what it means to believers today.

    April 19, 2014

  • mc-safety2.jpg OHP slates free motorcycle safety course

    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will be back in McAlester to give a free motorcycle safety course on April 26.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • equality-mcdaniel.jpg Couple seeks to help homosexual community in McAlester

    A McAlester woman says she and her spouse are working to bring equality to McAlester.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Look what's going on downtown McAlester tonight

    Tonight, area residents are invited to join other community members in front of the old Hunts building at the northwest corner of Choctaw Avenue and Second Street in downtown McAlester to listen and to play music in an open street jam, karaoke, cruise-in and to enjoy one of McAlester's two downtown districts. Set-up starts at 6 p.m., jam will be underway by 7 p.m. and at approximately 8 p.m. karaoke all the while cars cruise in. Everyone should feel free to bring lawn chairs and grills, instruments and music equipment, or classic, modified, modern -- all -- show cars. There are no contests or prizes planned, just community fellowship. 

    April 18, 2014

  • Police Badge MCC.jpg Detective's Dispatch: Buckle up

    It only takes a few seconds to put your seat belt on. These few seconds could change the rest of your life!

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • KTC Proclamation McAlester KTC students compete in state FCCLA contest

    Kiamichi Technology Center, McAlester Campus, recently participated in the 2014 Oklahoma State Students Taking Action with Recognition Events for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18-BREAKFAST1.jpg Lackey: Challenge of today's church is to empower Christ

    Christians everywhere make up the Body of Christ.
    Tom Lackey, of the First Presbyterian Church, delivered that message to the fourth gathering of those participating in the Men’s Holy Week Breakfasts.
    Lackey spoke to a group estimated at more than 100 men and boys at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in McAlester on Thursday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.