Officials: Gate was left open at sewage plant

Posted at 9:51 PM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 21:51:17-05

West Palm Beach City Administrator Jeff Green said Tuesday that the gate at the sewage plant was purposely left open when a former employee got inside and set his SUV on fire.

"In hindsight, we should have a better system set up," Green said

Green says while crews were repairing the pavement in the area of the gate a decision was made to keep it open during the construction.

On Monday morning, police say former city employee Douglas Ellington went through the gate and lit his SUV on fire. He also made bomb threats in both West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach, according to investigators.

"Clearly we are going to be looking at our security procedures and see what we can tighten up after this," Green said.

Ellington was in court Tuesday morning where he cried when his wife spoke.

Ellington's wife told the judge her husband had a mental health issue and may have overdosed on Adderrall before the events on Monday morning.

A judge ordered a mental health evaluation and said that Ellington will come back before him in mental health court on Friday.

Ellington is known to the city because he has already been arrested twice at city hall. Since his firing, he has constantly complained about what he calls safety concerns at the city's sewage plant.

Green says West Palm Beach leadership met with their security contractor Tuesday to address issues and improve security.

According to police reports, Ellington also managed to get into the Riviera Beach water plant over the weekend before he was asked to leave by a supervisor.

When police searched his home computer, they say they found research on Mercury switches and bomb making materials.