With at least 36 people dead following an illegal rave on his premises, manager Derick Ion mourned, not for those who were lost, but for his business. The fire at the Ghost Ship in Oakland on the night of December 2 has so far claimed the lives of 33 people with dozens more still missing. The following day, manager Derick Ion posted on his Facebook page, “Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel safe and sound… it’s as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope…. to be standing now in poverty of self-worth.” He runs the arts collective at the warehouse along with his wife, Micah Allison.
In a statement to NBC News, Ion apologized for his Facebobok post. The release read:
In my previous Facebook post, I had no Idea there was loss of life. This tragic event consumes my every moment.
My heart is broken. My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends who have suffered the loss of loved ones.
My goal has been nothing less than to create an environment for art and creativity in our community. During this investigation please continue to show support and compassion for those affected by this tragedy. The prayers of my family and I go out to the families of the victims.
Ion is also known as Derick Almena and Derick Alemany in public records.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ion ‘Laughed Off’ Fire Hazards According to a Former Resident
On December 6, Ion was interviewed on the Today show on NBC. During the bizarre interview, Ion says that the building was “up to code.” He defended the facility saying he slept their along with his children. Ion told Matt Lauer, “I would rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents! I’d rather let them tear at my flesh than answer these ridiculous questions.” Ion went on to beg for mercy before the interview ended.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Ion is the founder of the Ghost Ship Artist Collective that was run out of the warehouse. The building’s owner is Chor Ng. Her daughter, Eva Ng, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the space was leased as a business and was not supposed to have people living there.
One person, Shelley Mack, who says she lived in the warehouse, told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a dump and a death trap.” Mack added that there was no fire safety equipment and it was populated by squatters. The Times report also says that the City of Oakland has been contacted three times about the building since 2014. In November 2016, the warehouse was investigated over illegal construction claims.
Speaking to ABC News, one former resident said that Ion “laughed off” fire hazards. One of the commenters under Ion’s infamous Facebook post wrote, “Derick you were warned. Every time I came to your house I warned you and you just laughed.”
A YouCaring page has been set up to help the families of the victims.
2. Allison Called the Building ‘a F***ing Vanguard Chalice Temple Hideout Bomb Shelter of the Soul’ in 2014
In a bizarre May 2014 Facebook post, Micah Allison wrote that the building was a “beautiful temple” that was “held together with love and blood.” The post was designed to get friends to donate money to the couple in order to help them pay the rent. In her About section, Allison refers to herself as the “Mother Superior” of the warehouse.
A week later, Allison posted that the water was off in their building and that she needed a friend to let them use their bathtub so she could bathe the couple’s three children.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the building, also known as Satya Yoga, houses Ion, Allison and their three children. The newspaper also says that in 2015, their children were taken by Child Protective Services and sent to live with relatives in Southern California.
Ion wrote on Facebook in May 2015 that he had been “unable to see the kids for one month as we have been working and looking for the right lawyer as well as fighting extreme depression and an overwhelming longing for our children.” In July 2015, Ion wrote that the family had been reunited. During various posts in 2015, Ion referred to his children’s grandmother as “evil” and “toxic.”
3. One Customer Called Ion ‘Unstable & Dangerous’ in 2015
In March 2015, one person who did business with Ion wrote a scathing review on YellowPages.com saying:
Owner Derick Ion is unstable and dangerous. He does not honor agreements and gets violent, demanding thousands of extra dollars for imagined grievances. If not appeased, he has been known to violently react and steal anything that has not been removed from the space.
DO NOT DO BUSINESS HERE.
Additionally, the place is an absolute deathtrap – one incident, and anybody unfortunate enough to be inside will be trapped in a mountain of trash and improvised construction.
According to his LinkedIn page, Ion is a “photographer” and “installation altar artist.” He describes himself as being “self-employed.” In March 2011, Ion posted a video shot from “his little gallery in Ubud Bali, Indonesia.” The clip is titled, “Swastika Video.”
On his Facebook page, Ion says he’s from Los Angeles and that he’s been married to Allison since 2007. He puts his favorite quote as, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” A quote from Albert Einstein.
4. Ion Is Out on Probation for Receiving Stolen Goods
TMZ reports that in January 2016, Ion pleaded guilty in an Alameda County court to receiving stolen goods. He got sentenced to 36 months probation for the crime. The gossip site also posted a video showing the cramped conditions where the warehouse’s raves were held:
5. No Charges Have Been Filed Against Ion
ABC San Francisco reports that the fire does not look like a case of arson, according to investigators. The station does add that charges could be forthcoming for Ion and also says that the rave was operated without a license.
After annoucning that the death toll had risen to 24, Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly, said, “That number will go up.”