Marble Falls police charged 73-year-old Lowry Vann of Killeen with arson after officers and the Austin Bomb Squad found a complex incendiary device in a Marble Falls motel room. Courtesy photo
A 73-year-old Killeen man faces first-degree felony charges after building an incendiary device from several propane tanks and gasoline in a Marble Falls motel bathroom. The fuse fortunately went out.
Marble Falls police charged Lowry Vann with arson with intent to damage habitation. He was arrested Saturday, Nov. 13, by Temple police and booked into the Bell County Jail. He was still in custody as of Tuesday, Nov. 16, in lieu of a $300,000 bond.
The threat came to light on Nov. 11 when Vann told staff at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Temple that he had placed the device in a room at Hill Country Inn & Suites in the 1100 block of U.S. 281 in Marble Falls. Staff alerted Marble Falls police of the possible danger.
The motel was evacuated.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit compiled by Marble Falls Detective Sgt. J. Schlaudraff and signed by Marble Falls Municipal Judge Cheryl Pounds, the Austin Bomb Squad assisted in the initial call and ensured the room was safe.
During the investigation, Schlaudraff contacted Sgt. David Martinez of the Temple VA hospital police department, who had spoken with Vann after the device was reported to staff. Vann told Martinez that God had instructed him to build it.
Martinez told his Marble Falls counterpart that Vann said he built the device in the motel room from seven to eight propane tanks and 5 gallons of gasoline, according to the affidavit.
Vann told Martinez he put a comforter over the propane tanks and then placed the gasoline containers on top along with Acetone. He poked a hole in one of the gas containers so fuel could leak out and saturate the comforter.
The suspect then built a fuse from paper towels and matches. At about 2:50 p.m., he lit the fuse and left the building and later checked himself into the Veterans Affairs facility in Temple.
During a search of the room, Schlaudraff found the setup described by Vann. The fuse, according to the affidavit, was partially burned but appeared to have gone out as it went under the door to the bathroom. The detective sergeant also noticed a plastic bag covering the fire suppression device in the ceiling.
Officers also recovered two rifles, a .22-caliber pistol, and “a large amount of ammunition” from the room, according to the affidavit.
Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call the Marble Falls Police Department at 830-693-3611. Tips also may be made to Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-8477 or online through its website.