Authorities mum on intense search at home of accused arsonistBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
February 19. 2018 9:03PM
KINGSTON — Authorities are keeping tight-lipped on the details of an extensive search at the home of an accused arsonist who allegedly had information about making the poison ricin on his computer.
Multiple federal, state and local agencies descended on the property at 263 Route 125 where John Gates lives in an apartment, but officials have said little about the search.
Nearly two dozen vehicles were seen at the residence on Feb. 1 with investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state Fire Marshal’s Office, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the state police bomb squad, a U.S. Army Civilian Support Unit, and Kingston police.
Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office, said only that authorities were “conducting law enforcement activity at that site” earlier this month.
She referred additional questions to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, whose spokesman, Dena Blanco, said she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a federal investigation.
The investigation into the 44-year-old Gates began after a fire broke out in the early morning hours on Jan. 17 at the Carriage Towne Market, which is located in a strip of businesses at the Carriage Towne Plaza on Church Street.
Gates was arrested two days later and charged with burglary and arson for allegedly breaking into the building and setting the fire that damaged the market and caused smoke damage to several other businesses, some of which remain closed.
Gates has denied he was involved in the fire.
During the initial investigation, a search of his computer raised additional concerns after investigators found information on making ricin as a poison, according to Assistant Rockingham County Attorney Jill Cook.
Ricin is found in castor beans and can be deadly to humans.
Cook first revealed the ricin allegations during a bail hearing last month. She told the judge that Gates was questioned about the ricin by investigators. “His comments to them at the time were that, ’I want to tell everybody how to do it,’” she said.
Gates has not been charged with any crimes related to the ricin information allegedly discovered on his computer, but Cook has said that it’s “being looked at.”
Gates remains held at the Rockingham County jail on $50,000 cash.