Fire crew examines remains of the torched playground at Chula Vista Veterans Park. Image via OnScene.TVA transient who allegedly set a series of Chula Vista fires over the course of several months pleaded not guilty Tuesday to arson charges.
Alejandro Gonzalez, 33, is charged with four felony counts of arson of a structure or forest involving blazes on May 24, June 14, Sept. 17, and Sept. 20.
According to Chula Vista police, who said there have been about a dozen blazes sparked at various locations throughout the city since late April, Gonzalez was arrested near the scene of a Sept. 20 brush fire.
Officers spotted him “walking quickly away” from the blaze in the 1700 block of Fourth Avenue, according to police, who said he had several lighters in his possession and during questioning, “admitted to intentionally setting several brush fires in the river-bottom area over the past five months. Gonzalez claimed he was setting the fires due to hearing voices.”
Chula Vista police say the fires have largely been in the river bottom area that Gonzalez is “known to frequent” and mostly charred vegetation. In addition to the river bottom fires, police say there were four separate suspicious fires set less than 10 minutes apart on Sept. 17, and a Sept. 19 fire at Veterans Park.
Gonzalez also pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to charges in two unrelated cases, one for vehicle theft and the other for petty theft.
He is being held on $75,000 bail and is due back in court Oct. 28 for a readiness conference.
–City News Service