When he was a kid, before his mom died during an already difficult upbringing and left him to spend his teenage years shuttling from one foster family to the next, Trrance King lived near a fire station. (That's how he spells his name, according to court records.) The men there were friendly and took the boy under their wing. The experience left King with a sense that fire stations were a place of comfort and safe harbor.
That's what King, 21, told Fox 4 in a tearful jailhouse interview earlier this year, explaining what had driven him to steal a Dallas Fire-Rescue uniform and show up at a Plano fire house pretending to be a firefighter.
He was welcomed at first. The Plano firefighters initially bought his story that he was a veteran firefighter who was thinking of relocating and invited him to share their breakfast. But his story had too many holes, and one of the men eventually called his supposed home station in Dallas and discovered that the name he had given belonged to a white guy who'd just had his stuff stolen. They called the cops, who arrested King on theft charges.
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The Plano incident was neither the first nor the last time King would pretend to be a first responder. He has several Facebook profiles listing his profession as a paramedic at either the Garland Fire Department, Children's Medical Center or Baylor Hospital. Several photos show him in fire gear, grinning. In March, he posted a picture of a gold medallion along with the boast, "i got this for saving a 5-month-old baby girl from a burning car."
And then, last week, King showed up at a fire station in Denton claiming to be a paramedic. In retrospect, the firefighters probably should have noticed red flags right away ("It didn't sink in until later that Jayden Smith is Will Smith's son, so he didn't even make up a good name," Denton Battalion Chief Brian Glenn told NBC 5), but they allowed him to accompany them on a ride-along. It was only later that they discovered they were missing gear.
According to NBC 5, King was arrested on Sunday at a hospital in Irving wearing a Denton Fire Department shirt and carrying a stolen two-way radio. Glenn was rather philosophical about the alleged theft. "He was just looking for a chance to live a life that he dreamed of but didn't set his life on a course to achieve," he told the TV station.
So was King when he talked to Fox 4 back in May: "I hope to start over, but I'm going to need help. I don't know how to get it."