The April 9 fire that destroyed a Home Depot store in South San Jose was deliberately set by a man stealing power tools who is now in custody facing arson and theft charges, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced today.
In an 11:15am press conference broadcast live via San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s Facebook page, Rosen praised the inter-agency cooperation of city police and fire departments and the assistance of the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau in tracking down the suspect.
Dyllan Jaycruz Gogue, 27, of San Jose, was to be arraigned this afternoon in Santa Clara County Superior Court on a felony aggravated arson charge, plus seven counts of grand theft and three counts of petty theft, which together could result in a 14-years-to-life sentence on conviction, said Rosen.
Rosen said it was “miraculous” that no one was killed or injured in the five-alarm fire, which completely destroyed the 11,000-square-foot building along with an estimated $14 million in inventory. He said the fire, so large it could be seen from satellites in space, “sent employees and customers running for their lives.” Nearby stores along Blossom Hill Road were evacuated and nearby neighborhoods were in lockdown for 20 hours.
Accompanying Rosen at the press conference were Liccardo, Fire Chief Robert Sapien, Police Chief Anthony Mata, Special ATF Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman and city staff and prosecutors.
Rosen said investigators have evidence that shows that earlier on Saturday, April 9, Gogue had stolen items from a Bass Pro Shop store, and that at approximately 5:30pm he loaded stolen power tools into a shopping cart at Home Depot on Blossom Hill Road and intentionally set a fire as a diversion.
As the quickly engulfed a tool and lumber area, Gogue was stopped by Home Depot employees as he was attempting to leave the store with the shopping cart filled with stolen tools. Gogue fled the store in an awaiting car, Rosen said.
Later, Gogue continued what Rosen called a “theft spree”at an East Bay Macy’s store.
He said ATF joined the investigation early last week, a warrant was issued for Gogue’s arrest and he was taken into custody without incident on Friday, April 15, just six days after the fire, according to the district attorney.
Witnesses who spoke with ABC7 News after the Home Depot fire claimed there was no immediate fire alarm and no sign of active sprinklers. The fire department said that is still under investigation.
Fire investigators had reported the day after the April 9 fire that the site of the five-alarm blaze was still too unstable to allow them to sift through the rubble and identify the cause of the spectacular fire.
In a press statement issued April 10, the San Jose Fire Department said the fire appeared to have started in the lumber area and that the cause of the fire was not suspicious.
The San Jose Fire Department also said a Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department helicopter had spotted two other fires while flying over Saturday's Home Depot fire in San Jose.
“There is currently no indication this fire was suspicious in nature,” fire officials said April 10. “While overhead the fire, Santa Clara County Sheriff Department’s STAR1 helicopter observed two fires nearby and quickly reported them to SJFD. It is not clear at this time whether those fires were connected in any way to the fire at Home Depot. SJFD is looking into this matter and can provide more information at a later time.”
The 5:30pm April 9 Home Depot fire forced the evacuation of employees and also of pets in an adjacent animal hospital and burned for more than six hours until nearly 100 firefighters got it under control at 11:44 pm. Fire crews successfully prevented the fire from extending beyond the Home Depot site.
All the store's customers and employees at the 920 Blossom Hill Road store site escaped the fire safely. Officials said Sunday evening all the animals from a nearby vet hospital were safely evacuated. The fire was intense enough to show up on radar systems and satellite images, according to the National Weather Service.
Would I be Correct to assume that this perpetrator may have been out of jail for previous crimes on “no cash bail?”
This makes more sense as the reason behind the fire starting. Will there be a judge and prosecutor with enough will to give this bum the maximum sentence? I doubt he will ever be able to pay back the damage he has done financially.
Of course if Santa Clara county voters are idiotic enough and vote in Sajid Khan as DA, the remedy will be for him to provide a ‘heart-felt’ apology and go home with maybe an ankle bracelet – which most revolving door criminals remove at home.
This guy was a serial thief! I just wonder how many times he was cited out or charges dropped. When the “big one” hits Rosen is like a circus clown front and center spewing his tough on crime canned catch phrases. The whole system is a joke and the progressive leaning voters and MSM are a complete joke.
Was he in this country “just to make a better life for himself and his family,” aka, a “dreamer”? He apparently dreamed of stealing everything he could get his hands on rather than actually working to obtain what he needed as the rest of us do. It would be interesting to know how much he was receiving in public benefits in addition to his “take” from theft. I imagine he got plenty by walking out the door without paying at Safeway and Lucky too.
The press conference was so they look good and we are to believe they are doing a good job taking care of us, it’s all hot air.