TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) –It’s been two and a half years since the Porterville Library burned down, and on Thursday, bodycam video from inside the building was made public for the first time.
It was day two of the trial of two teenage boys accused of causing the blaze that claimed the lives of Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and firefighter Patrick Jones.
“I heard things falling from the roof, I was almost to my knees,” a former Porterville PD officer recalled when he was called to the stand. It was his bodycam video that was shown in the courtroom.
The judge asked the media to omit witness names and the identity of the defendants because they’re underage. The officer said he left after a couple of minutes, thinking no one else was inside.
“I told Patrick where the fire was and that was the last time I saw Patrick,” he said.
“We’ve waited two years, six months today for our day in court,” said Patrick’s dad, John Jones.
The families of the fallen firefighters said watching the footage was tough.
“To actually see him for the last time, no words can explain,” said Katie Bryant, Patrick’s sister.
“It’s kind of difficult from a parent’s perspective to see that, knowing that your child, tough as he was, was not going to make it in a few minutes,” said Jones.
It was rough for some of the witnesses on the stand, too. Another law enforcement witness broke down on the stand when he recalled the moment he found out Patrick was dead. The two fifteen-year-olds accused of setting the fire are facing murder and arson charges.
Bodycam video from two other Porterville Police officers show when they showed up to each boy’s house to ask them about the fire. In the interview, each boy initially denies having any involvement in the incident. After police tell them they have video of them exiting the building, they eventually admit to being at the library –one of them saying his friend lit a paper.
“I was 13 once, and I frankly know that if a police officer ever came to my house, the last thing on my list was to lie to the guy,” said Jones.
Later, another recording of the kids whispering in the back of the patrol car is played. A witness who worked the case with Porterville PD said in one part you can hear the boys saying: “We killed two firefighters.”
“It was really hard to watch in one way, and just confirmed everything else in another,” said Jones.
The trial will resume on Friday at 1 pm.