International Training Conference & Expo


Case Study - Kansas City Firefighter Fatality

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 (1:00pm – 12:00pm) (Ballroom 6)


On October 12, 2015 at approximately 7:30 PM, Kansas City Firefighters responded to a structural fire in the 2600 block of Independence Avenue. During suppression operations, a structural collapse killed firefighters John Mesh, 39, and Larry Leggio, 43. The incident also seriously injured two other firefighters. As a result of an investigation led by the ATF National Response Team, authorities charged Thu Hong Nguyen, who operated a nail salon, with arson and two counts of second-degree murder. The investigation also lead to additional charges related to another fire set by Nguyen in a different nail salon. Evidence from the scene, video evidence, results of fire tests, and smart meter data were key items in the week-long trial presentation that resulted in Nguyen’s conviction in July 2018. 

Learning Objectives:
The presentation will help students gain a better understanding of:

  • Documentation required on a large-scale investigation

  • Importance of video data

  • Techniques to utilize smart meter data as part of an investigation

  • Important elements of preparing testimony with a litigation team

  • Presentation of scene and fire test data in court


Michael R. Keller

Mike Keller’s family raised him in northern New Jersey and he graduated from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1988.  Upon graduation he was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps.  During his active duty career he primarily served with the Navy SeaBees and deployed for operations in Southwest Asia, Somalia, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe.  After leaving active duty service he held a variety of engineering and consulting positions that revolved around construction, facility management, and forensic engineering.  This included 8 years as the Senior Electrical Engineer and Electrical Engineering Technical Lead at the ATF Fire Research Laboratory where he was an active member of the ATF National Response Team and responsible for forensic examinations of electrical equipment, provided fire scene support for investigators, and provided training at a variety of platforms. He is currently the an Adjunct Instructor for The Center for Fire & Explosives, Forensic Investigations, Training & Research, Oklahoma State University where he created an electrical theory and failure analysis curriculum that supports the fire investigation program. Mike handles a small load of consulting work and continues to provide training at numerous professional conferences and meetings. He has authored a number of peer-reviewed papers on the topics of arc melting and electrical failure and has been accepted as an expert witness in multiple states in the United States and Ontario, Canada.


Ryan Zornes

Senior Special Agent (SSA) Ryan Zornes has been a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) since 2001 and is currently assigned to an ATF Field Office in Kansas City, Missouri.  SSA Ryan Zornes is also an ATF Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) and a member of that ATF National Response Team (NRT) and the ATF International Response Team (IRT).  SSA Zornes has been conducting fire investigations as an Origin and Cause expert for ATF since 2009.  SSA Zornes has also participated in or has been the lead investigator in several fire investigations leading to arrests and convictions.