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Suspected Kingston market arsonist allegedly used Molotov cocktail in blaze

Union Leader Correspondent

April 16. 2018 8:46PM

KINGSTON — An accused arsonist is facing new charges alleging he used a Molotov cocktail to set fire to the Carriage Towne Market in Kingston earlier this year.

John Gates, 44, of Kingston, has been indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury on two counts of burglary and one count each of arson, attempted arson, felon in possession of a dangerous weapon (a Molotov cocktail) and possession or use of a Molotov cocktail, according to Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Haggar.

Haggar said remnants were found at the scene of the Jan. 17 blaze indicating that glass containing a flammable liquid with a wick, commonly known as a Molotov cocktail, was used in the fire.

The fire broke out during the early morning hours inside the market, which is located in the Carriage Towne Plaza on Church Street.

Gates, who was convicted of federal identity fraud charges in 2002, is accused of breaking into the plaza before setting the fire that heavily damaged the market and caused smoke damage to other nearby businesses.

The market remains closed and boarded up.

“They’ve been out of business for three months now,” Haggar said.

Tammy Romel, who owns Stitched in Stone with her husband, Glen, was forced to close their fabric and quilt shop while they waited for new ceiling tiles to be installed because the old ones sustained smoke damage. She said Monday that her shop just recently reopened.

Exeter Hospital’s physical therapy office and Core Physicians’ Kingston Health medical office also temporarily relocated to offices in Epping due to smoke damage.

Gates is scheduled to face trial on Nov. 5.

Meanwhile, Haggar said other agencies are also involved with the investigation, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She said only that they’re “looking at evidence.”

During the initial investigation into Gates, a search of his computer prompted concerns after authorities said they found information on making ricin as a poison.

Ricin is found in castor beans and can be deadly to humans.

Many federal, state and local agencies were seen at Gates’ property at 263 Route 125 in early February, but officials declined to comment on the nature of the search and the ongoing investigation.

Crime Public Safety Kingston

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