Water flowed in a hallway of Little Italy apartment building. Image from CBS8 broadcast

More than four dozen felony charges were filed Wednesday against a man who allegedly flooded all eight floors of a Little Italy apartment complex by opening several fire valves within the building.

Francisco Morales, 37, pleaded not guilty to eight counts of assault likely to cause great bodily injury and 45 felony counts of vandalism.

Morales’ alleged act rendered the building uninhabitable and displaced around 200 residents of the apartment complex at 1810 State Street, according to prosecutors.

Water began gushing through the building shortly before 12:30 a.m. Monday. Police officers evacuated the residents, and San Diego Gas & Electric personnel were called in to shut off power to the apartments as crews worked to get the flooding under control.

Morales was arrested a short distance from the soaked building, San Diego police Sgt. Thomas Sullivan said. It was unclear what might have motivated the act.

Deputy District Attorney Nereida Melgarejo said the damage to the building was “in the millions” and that the structure was in danger of being condemned. The prosecutor declined to comment on how much prison time Morales could face if convicted, but did note at the defendant’s arraignment that he has no prior criminal record.

Morales, who’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail, is due back in court March 8 for a readiness conference.

— City News Service

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