OAKLAND (KRON) — Derick Ion Almena, the operator of the “Ghost Ship” warehouse, visited the scene of the deadly fire that killed 36 people in Oakland.
Almena dodged KRON4 reporters as he was leaving the warehouse Tuesday at 4 a.m. Alemna did, however, talk exclusively with NBC’s TODAY.
Former tenants of the building say Almena was the operator of the Satya Yuga collective known as the “Ghost Ship”.
“This is profit? The loss of mass life? I’m a father. I lay my three children down there every night,” an emotional Almena told NBC, calling himself the “father of this space.”
When asked if he should be held accountable for the deaths, Almena got visibly upset and started repeating that he is sorry and that he is not going to answer these questions.
“I would rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents than answer these questions,” Almena said.
Neighbors and occupants of the building said he had illegally carved it into rented living and studio space for artists.
A fire erupted Friday night during an electronic music party. Almena was at a nearby hotel as he had rented out the warehouse for the night.
Almena, 46, has lived in California since at least 1990, mostly in Los Angeles, where public records show he was evicted from a North Hollywood apartment in Los Angeles in 1993.
Relatives and colleagues of the leader of the Oakland artists’ colony where dozens died in a fire over the weekend say he saw himself as a kind of guru craved having followers but cared little for their well-being.
Almena was charged in January 2015 for a felony and a misdemeanor of receiving stolen property. The Alameda County Court Office revealed Monday that Almena pleaded guilty to those charges. Almena spent two days in the Alameda County Jail. He has been on probation for 36 months.