A Metairie man has been arrested in New Orleans in connection with an August incident in which two Molotov cocktails were tossed onto a 7th Ward yard — in retaliation, investigators allege, for a drug deal in which the man never got his drugs.
Nickolas Stackpoole, 34, was booked on counts of aggravated arson, possessing a firebomb and terrorism by aggravated arson. Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell set his bail at $320,000 on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, of the state Fire Marshal’s Office, said investigators are also looking at Stackpoole for two other suspicious fires that occurred in the 7th Ward the same month.
Firefighters arriving at the residence in the 1600 block of North Roman Street about 5:30 a.m. Aug. 11 found two burning Molotov cocktails and the strong odor of gasoline surrounding the premises. None of the seven people inside the multiple-unit wooden building — both children and adults — was injured, and there was no damage to the structure itself.
A New Orleans Fire Department bomb-sniffing dog named Dakota alerted investigators to five different places where an accelerant, material used to speed up fires, was found.
More than two months later, according to a warrant application, someone who came into contact with Jefferson Parish detectives “during unrelated matters” offered a tip: They had information about the fire on North Roman Street.
In an Oct. 26 meeting at an “undisclosed location,” the informant reportedly told state fire marshals and an NOFD investigator that Stackpoole had bragged about using the Molotov cocktails.
Stackpoole told the informant, according to the warrant application, that “his actions were a means of retaliation and to ‘scare’ the victims following a narcotics purchase in which the defendant never received the negotiated items.”
Stackpoole also claimed, the informant told detectives, that he remained on the scene until the first firefighters arrived, then fled on his motorcycle. Investigators said in their warrant application that the informant’s story lined up with their initial examination of the scene.
Stackpoole’s public defender, Jan Fennell, objected at the bail hearing that the warrant was based on the word of a single, anonymous informant and was not backed up by any physical evidence. She also objected to the booking count of terrorism, which she said hardly matched the allegations against her client.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Henn argued that under the law, retaliation for a drug deal gone bad could count as terrorism. Louisiana defines terrorism as the commission of one of several crimes, including arson, with “the intent to intimidate or coerce the civilian population.”
Cantrell sided with Henn and found probable cause for that count, as well as the aggravated arson and firebomb allegations.
Thompson said the terrorism charge is “not terribly unusual” for state Fire Marshal’s Office investigators.
He said his office is also trying to determine whether Stackpoole was involved in two suspicious fires on Aug. 6, in the 1700 block of Marigny Street and the 2000 block of North Derbigny Street.
Stackpoole, whose address was listed in the 3700 block of Bissonet Drive in Metairie on an arrest register, is facing separate charges in Jefferson Parish of criminal trespass, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine.