A fugitive charged with murder in the death of four firefighters, who reportedly has fled to a resort in Brazil, said in a videotape aired Saturday that he was being “railroaded” by authorities and the media.
“I am innocent,” Martin Pang said in the 15-minute tape shown in part on KING television in the evening newscast. “I had nothing to do with it (the fire) except joking about it.”
Pang, 39, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder after four firefighters died Jan. 5 in an arson at a Mary Pang’s Food Products warehouse, owned by Pang’s parents.
KING said the videotape, showing a recording date of February 16th, was given to the station with a brief note attached that said to give it to the media.
KING said the station gave a copy of the videotape to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and offered a copy to Seattle police. Authorities did not immediately comment.
If the date is correct, the tape might have been made in Los Angeles, where Pang had been living for several years.
However, since then he has been reported to have left Los Angeles and flown to Brazil between Feb. 17 and Feb. 24.
The Seattle Times reported Saturday that investigators believe Pang has been staying with a woman at a resort 100 miles north of Rio de Janeiro.
The newspaper said Interpol joined the search for Pang after the international police agency was asked about the case by Marcelo Moreira, a reporter for the newspaper Jornal do Brazil.
Moreira said an Interpol agent, unidentified in the Times report, later told him Pang might be with a woman in or near Buzios.
Seattle police and officials in the U.S. Marshal’s Service would not comment on Moreira’s account.
Pang was last seen by investigators in the United States on Feb. 12 in Venice, Calif., a seacoast suburb of Los Angeles.
In the videotape, Pang wore a baseball hat and T-shirt and smoked a cigarette. He was shown from the waist up against plain walls.
He insisted his departure from Seattle, where he had gone to be with his parents after the fire, didn’t constitute unlawful flight when he returned to Los Angeles. “I lived in California. I simply went back there,” he said.
However, he accused the Seattle Fire Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of “trying to cover their rears” and said he was being made the scapegoat for the arson.
“I am not going to jail for a crime I did not commit,” he said.
While authorities said Pang hoped to gain financially from the blaze, he insisted he did not have a motive.
He said the amount of insurance on the warehouse had been lowered by his parents, and that he didn’t need financial help anyway.
“I don’t need money from my mom and dad,” he said. “…People offer me jobs all the time because of my business skills, my organizational skills.”
He said that while he has a “checkered past” as a race car driver and part-time actor, he has been practicing the religion of Taoism the past couple years, is “centered” in his approach to life and has learned to appreciate simple things.
“I love my family,” said Pang, whose four former wives all said he beat them. “I love my children. I’m a good person.”