Reisterstown Advance Auto Parts arson suspect was employee with anger issues, documents show

BALTIMORE — Elijah Morgan, the 19-year-old, arrested for arson at Advance Auto Parts in Reisterstown was denied bail on Thursday after a judge said he was a “public safety risk.”

Morgan is facing first-degree arson charges for allegedly setting the three-alarm fire to the store Tuesday evening on Reisterstown Road. If convicted, he could spend up to 30 years in prison.

Documents obtained by WJZ show Morgan was an employee at the store and that he allegedly set that fire because he was angry.

He was taken into custody at the scene of the fire and was taken to an area hospital for evaluation.

Around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, the auto parts store caught fire.

Firefighters responded to see a blazing fire from the roof.

Mayday, a distress signal, was called at 9:44 p.m. when a lieutenant had the roof collapse on him. He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Documents said Morgan was at the auto parts store earlier in the evening helping a manager close the store.

Documents reveal the fire started in the back of the store in a storage room, and that investigators looked through surveillance video and saw that the suspect was the only one in the room where the fire started before it happened.

Morgan reportedly went to the back of the store twice before the flames got out of control.

“This has been a big staple in Reisterstown for a long time,” Reisterstown resident Heather Schultheis said.      

Schultheis said she was at the store the night of the fire.

“It’s just very sad and it was angering,” she said.

Police say Morgan, at first, denied involvement at first, but later admitted to having personal issues.

According to the charging documents, Morgan told police when he gets really angry he “blanks out” and he was having an anger attack that day.

He also allegedly told investigators he didn’t remember how the fire started but he was probably responsible and the fire was a cry for help.

“I was just so saddened to know that somebody is in that much distress in their life that they have to go to those measures to do something like that,” Schultheis said.

Drone video from a WJZ viewer showed the aftermath of the fire.

Crews are in the process of demolishing the rest of the store.

The damage is reportedly estimated at $5 million. 

Morgan’s next court date is set for August 11.


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