Pattern of Pre-semester Arson, Vandals set trashcans ablaze

Gideon Halpin, Staff Writer

One week prior to the start of the semester, four trash cans erupted in flames in a series of arsons in and around Santa Rosa Junior College between 12:30 a.m. and 3:37 a.m. on Aug. 8.

The first target was behind Little Caesar’s on the corner of Mendocino and McConnel Avenues at 12:30 a.m. SRJC police teamed up with the local fire department to quell the blaze. At 2:57 a.m. vandals lit two concrete garbage cans between Burbank Auditorium and Forsyth Hall.

The next trash can set alight was a residential garbage can on 423 Elliot Ave. at 3:37 a.m., and had authorities not contained it quickly, it could have easily burnt the neighboring area, including a car and tree.

Resident Acacia Raines said, “I actually wasn’t there that night, but my mom was awakened by pounding on the door as the police called for her to exit the house.”

The evidence of the crime is a melted garbage can oozing on the asphalt and fused to a nearby tree with a sign Raines taped on the melted can saying, “Please no smoking.”

SRJC District Interim Police Chief Robert Brownlee said that the case is still under investigation and the department is reviewing video footage. However, Brownlee said that the quality of surveillance is lacking, given the poor quality of lighting and antiquated video cameras.

“Arson is a felony, and depending on the seriousness of the nature, can go through the court system and result in fines, jail or prison,” Brownlee said.

Police found a suspect later that morning looking at the burn locations and are monitoring him. The case is under investigation with the method of ignition and identity of the suspect remaining undisclosed.

If anyone has pertinent information regarding the case, contact the SRJC police at (707) 527-1000.