Seven suspected arsonists arrested in Contra Costa in the last 30 days

Seven suspected arsonists arrested in Contra Costa in the last 30 daysCONCORD, CA, FEB. 10, 2021Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) has announced the arrests of seven arson suspects. The suspects were sought in eight separate cases which occurred in just more than 30 days in January and early February.

Working with law enforcement partners in Antioch, Concord, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek, investigators from Con Fire’s Fire Investigation Unit (FIU) investigated and arrested alleged perpetrators of eight separate, intentionally set fires that occurred in and around the county.

“Quick work of our investigators in close coordination with law enforcement partners resulted in the identification of seven arsonists threatening our communities in January and February,” said Captain Ryan Graham, Supervisor, Con Fire’s Fire Investigation Unit. “Community involvement is critical to solving cases of arson. The residents of Contra Costa County can help protect us all by confidentially providing arson-related information to the Arson Tip line at 1-866-50- ARSON.”

Investigations continue in some of these cases. And investigators expect to file further arson charges with the Contra Costa District Attorney.

Don’t hesitate to call

Con Fire’s FIU urges residents to help them fight the crime of arson across the county. You should not hesitate to call the Arson Tip line at 1-866-50-ARSON. Even though information may seems too little or unimportant to matter, it might make a difference. Some of the most valuable tips come from residents who were not aware what they saw was very important.

At 1-866-50-ARSON, residents can leave a recorded message about fire-related criminal activity in English or Spanish. Your tips can remain anonymous and all tips are treated confidentially.

Arrest details

On Jan. 6, security officers at the County East Mall on Somersville Road in Antioch witnessed a male suspect setting fire to a trash can at the entrance. Antioch Police and the Con Fire Investigator arrived on scene and detained the suspect who admitted having set the garbage can on fire. The subject, a 27-year-old Vallejo man, was taken into custody and transported to Martinez Detention Facility and booked for Arson to Property, (PC § 451(d)), a felony.

On Jan 16, working with Walnut Creek Police Department, Con Fire investigators arrested a suspect accused of starting fires in a commercial complex under construction in the 1900 block of North California, Walnut Creek. The man arrested for Arson to an Occupied Structure, (PC § 451(b)), a felony, is a 30-year-old resident of Pittsburg. Investigation revealed the suspect had set three separate fires on a concrete subfloor at the construction site.

On Jan. 17, Con Fire firefighters responded to a commercial structure fire on Memorial Way in Pittsburg. They observed an individual attempting to exit the structure through a hole in the roof. Arriving on scene, the Con Fire investigator questioned the suspect who admitted having intentionally set the fire before attempting to flee. The investigator arrested the suspect who attempted to flee on foot before being hand-cuffed. The 24-year-old transient was arrested for Arson to a Structure (PC § 451(d)), a felony, and Resisting Arrest (PC § 148(a)), a misdemeanor. The building sustained damage to the interior as a result of the fire.

Suspect released, then arrested again

On Jan. 18, Con Fire investigators, working with Pleasant Hill Police, identified and arrested a suspect in an exterior fire on Ellinwood Drive in Pleasant Hill. In this case, the suspect fled on foot as Con Fire and PHPD responded. Other units arriving on-scene. They located and detained the suspect, who the Con Fire investigator recognized as having been in the vicinity of other recent fires set in the same area. The 34-year-old transient resident of Pleasant Hill was arrested for Arson to Property (PC § 451(d)), a felony. The man was cited and released pending further investigation.

Pleasant Hill Police arrested the same man six days later. Working with Con Fire, officers had responded to reports of a transient man setting fire to a Christmas tree at the end of Santa Monica Drive, Pleasant Hill. The suspect admitted to setting the tree on fire. Officers transported him to the Martinez Detention Facility and booked him for Arson to Property, (PC § 452(d)), a misdemeanor. Con Fire Investigators continuing to investigate if the man is connected to several other recent fires in the area.

February arrests

On Feb. 4, Con Fire investigators arrested a 40-year-old man on L Street in Antioch. They suspected he intentionally set a fire at the Diablo Creek Golf Course one year before. In the early morning hours of Jan. 19, 2020, investigators had responded to a fire at the golf course that destroyed an RV, a box truck, three golf carts, and extensively damaged a maintenance garage with adjoining office. Surveillance video at the time led investigators to a former employee of the golf course. They interviewed him but he denied being involved. They did not have enough evidence to arrest him at the time. Investigation continued. On Feb. 4, 2021, the man was contacted and presented with new evidence. Investigators subsequently arrested him and transported him to the Concord Police Department where he was booked.

On Feb. 5, Con Fire crews responded to a structure fire in a 45-unit apartment complex in Walnut Creek, where investigation revealed the fire had been intentionally set by a resident after an argument with his wife. Surveillance video of a suspect leaving the area of the fire was obtained and the suspect was identified. The suspect information was shared with Walnut Creek PD, which located the subject some five hours later. Con Fire investigators responded and interviewed the suspect, a 32-year-old Walnut Creek resident, They arrested him for Aggravated Arson to an Inhabited Structure (PC § 451(b)), a felony. He was transported and booked into the Martinez Detention Facility.

On Feb. 7, a subject was observed in the vicinity of Harrison Street and Concord Avenue in Concord lighting a Christmas ornament in the middle of the street. He was further seen by witnesses to have lit a piece of paper near the back wall of the nearby Walgreens store.

Witnesses identified the suspect as a 26-year-old transient living in Concord. The man admitted to lighting the objects to responding Concord Police. He was was arrested, transported and cited by Concord Police for Unlawful Fire of Property, (PC § 452(d)) and released.