“I’m Not Going to Answer These Questions!” Oakland warehouse manager, Derick Ion Almena became emotional in interview with Matt Lauer, refusing to answer questions about the devastating fire that claimed the lives of 36 people.
In an intense interview Matt Lauer and Tamron Hall of the Today show, Derick Ion Almena expressed his deepest regret for the tragedy that struck his warehouse, the place he referred to as, “our home.”
According to Daily Mail, Lauer began the line of questioning of Almena by stating that the parents of the victims wanted answers and asked if he was aware the space was unacceptable for living.
Almena responded to Lauer saying, “Am I the man who should be held responsible?” Becoming clearly agitated he went on to talk about his dreams for the building and how many others found solace in the space just as he did.
“We made music, we created art, we opened our home. It became our home. It didn’t start off as our home. It started off as an initial dream and idea that we would have a facility and a venue that would host everything from [indecipherable] to the gay community to artists that couldn’t perform anywhere to performance art and alternative arts,” stated by Almena.
As the interview progressed, co-host Tamoran Hall took the opportunity to quote a former resident of the building saying, “Almena only cared about profit and only spent money on partying.”
Almena became immediately infuriated and responded to Hall’s questioning saying, “This is profit? The loss of mass life? I’m a father. I laid my three children down there every night. Profit? This is not profit. This is not loss. This is a mass grave.”
As he rambled on Almena told the interviewers that he was only speaking with them as a means to apologize to the victims’ families and that he was not going to answer anymore questions “the way you are presenting them.”
“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. What do you want me to say? I’m not going to answer these questions. I just want to say I’m sorry. If you have to hold my soul accountable for believing in something,’ he said.”
According to Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley, the case is being investigated. She relayed that if the investigation determines that a crime has been committed, the charges could range from murder to involuntary manslaughter.
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