CONCORD, CA – Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) today announced the arrests of seven arson suspects, in eight separate cases, 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 in January and early February.
“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 and 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 with further charges expected to be filed. All the cases will be forwarded to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office requesting prosecution for arson charges.
Summaries of each of the 30-plus-day-period’s arson arrests:
- 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, Anthony Cummings, 27 of Vallejo 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. Arrested for Arson to an Occupied Structure, (PC § 451(b)), a felony, was Tristan Miano, 30, a 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, where 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. Arrested was Mandell Jeter, 24, a transient. He 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.
- 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 located and detained the suspect who was recognized by the Con Fire investigator as having been in the vicinity of other recent fires set in the same area. Jonathan Erick Duke, 34, a transient resident of Pleasant Hill was arrested for Arson to Property (PC § 451(d)), a felony. Duke was cited and released pending further investigation.
- On Jan. 23, Con Fire investigators working with Pleasant Hill Police responded to witness reports of a transient man setting fire to a Christmas tree at the end of Santa Monica Drive, Pleasant Hill. Arriving on scene, Pleasant Hill PD detained Jonathon Duke, 34 who admitted setting the tree on fire. He was transported to the Martinez Detention Facility and booked for Arson to Property, (PC § 452(d)), a misdemeanor. Duke had been arrested previously on Jan. 18 and released. Con Fire Investigators are continuing to investigate if Duke is connected to several other recent fires in the area.
- On Feb. 4, Con Fire investigators arrested Jason Myers, 40, on L Street in Antioch for intentionally setting 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 Myers, a former employee of the golf course. He was interviewed but denied being involved and there was not enough evidence to arrest him at the time. Investigation continued, and on Feb. 4, 2021, Myers was contacted and presented with new evidence. He was subsequently arrested and transported 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, Randall Griffey-Shay, 32, a Walnut Creek resident and arrested him for Arson to an Inhabited Structure (PC § 451(b)), a felony. He was transported and booked into the Martinez Detention Facility for Aggravated Arson to an Inhabited Structure (PC § 451(d)), a felony.
- 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. Positively identified by witnesses, Robert Currier, 26, a transient living in Concord, 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.
Con Fire’s FIU urges residents to help them fight the crime of arson across the county by calling the Arson Tip line at 1-866-50-ARSON. They caution residents not to hesitate on information that seems too little or unimportant to matter, adding some of the most valuable tips come from residents who were not aware what they saw was very important to the investigation of an incident.
At 1-866-50-ARSON, residents can leave a recorded message about fire-related criminal activity in English or Spanish. Tips can be anonymous, but all tips are treated confidentially. Fire investigators sometimes need additional information, so inclusion of name and phone number is encouraged.
About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire)
Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across its 304 square-mile District area, and through mutual aid, in and around the 20 cities and unincorporated communities of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model across the District and beyond to include some 520 square miles of the county. In 2018, the District responded to nearly 75,000 fire and EMS emergencies and dispatched some 95,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 74,000 ambulance transports. The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property, and the environment.