A Montrose-area man is charged with arson after his 4th of July celebration ended with a homemade fireworks display consisting of his girlfriend's entire wardrobe.
According to a complaint filed by HPD's arson squad, Albert Briede, 30, spent the holiday clubbing with his girlfriend and another couple, all of whom shared an apartment in a mid-rise near the corner of Dunlavy and Richmond.
Briede's girlfriend and the other couple later told investigators that Briede had gotten too smashed to drive the four of them home, so they took a cab. A defiant Briede decided to show them that he wasn't too drunk to drive home by doing just that.
Apparently it took him several hours, though, because that is how long his girlfriend said she had been asleep on the couch when, according to the complaint, Briede bodily smashed the dead-bolted front door completely off its frame.
"Why did you make me do that?" Briede then allegedly asked his woozy girlfriend. Not surprisingly, Briede and his girlfriend "then engaged in a verbal altercation." Said altercation paused when Briede retreated to the balcony to smoke a cigarette and plot his next genius move. Meanwhile, Briede's girlfriend and her female roommate put their heads together. What should they do about Briede's Jack Nicholson, "Heeeee-eeere's Johnny!" routine? Call the cops, they decided.
The roommate tried to reason with Briede on the balcony, and for a few short minutes this seemed to have worked. Briede went into the bedroom he shared with his girlfriend and closed the door behind him. Maybe he had passed out?
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No such luck.
According to the complaint, approximately four minutes later, Briede emerged from the bedroom and told his girlfriend words to the effect that "Everything you care about has been taken care of and is now on fire."
The two women ran in the bedroom, where they discovered that a line of Briede's girlfriends shirts were in flames and looked as though they had all been lit from the bottom. Soon the blaze had spread to the rest of the closet. According to the report, a serious conflagration was averted thanks to the sprinkler system, which extinguished the flames before the fire department could arrive from the Dunlavy station a few feet away.
Briede's male roommate said he had been extremely intoxicated that day and acting like someone they didn't know. He has no criminal history in Harris County and remains in jail on $20,000 bond. A third-degree felony arson charge carries a punishment of up to ten years in prison.