See Update No. 3 at the bottom of page 2 on the charges against Gabriel Michael Castillo. Update No. 2 is about the son of a firefighter being arrested for setting the recent “East Fires” in Anaheim and Yorba Linda. Update No. 1 is about the original person of interest in the case being found, interviewed and cleared by police.
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 19, 5:51 P.M.: The Anaheim Police and Fire & Rescue departments just released a photo of a person of interest wanted in connection with a series of fires intentionally set in the east part of that city and neighboring Yorba Linda today. The so-called “East Fires” ignited between noon and 3:45 p.m., and in two locations witnesses saw a male displaying “bizarre behavior” and making “mention of various types of fire apparatus,” police said.
“The fires did not pose risk to the homes or businesses in the incident areas,” according to the police statement.
The man being sought was described as wearing all blue or a white tank top and possibly driving a silver or gray Chrysler PT Cruiser. Here is the full view police provided:
Anyone with information is asked to immediately contact Orange County Crimestoppers at 855.TIP.OCCS, www.occrimstoppers.org or text OCCS and your tip to CRIMES (274637). Anonymous tips may be left.
UPDATE NO. 1, AUG. 20, 9:02 A.M.: The family of the person of interest in the East Fires contacted police, who interviewed the individual and determined he is not a suspect. From the statement of Sgt. Bob Dunn, the Anaheim Police spokesman:
In two of these three fires, a person of interest was seen in proximity to the fires. As investigators worked through the night, family of the person of interest contacted the Anaheim Police Department. After speaking with this individual, he is no longer considered a person of interest and at this time is not a suspect in this series of fires.
Tips are still being collected at the Crimestoppers numbers and website above.
UPDATE NO. 2, AUG. 26, 4 P.M.: The 19-year-old son of a veteran Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) firefighter was arrested Sunday for allegedly setting the recent arson “East Fires” in Anaheim and Yorba Linda, sheriff's deputies said.
Gabriel Michael Castillo of Anaheim Hills was booked into Orange County Jail on arson charges after a joint investigation by the sheriff's department, OCFA, Anaheim Police and Anaheim Fire & Rescue, according to a statement from Lt. Jeff Hallock, the sheriff's spokesman.
None of the three brush fires caused injuries or damage to structures, Hallock added.
Castillo is the son of an 18-year OCFA veteran stationed in Santa Ana, according to Hallock's statement that asks anyone with information about the fires to call sheriff's investigators at 714.647.7000 or Orange County Crimestoppers, even anonymously at 855.847.6227.
UPDATE NO. 3, AUG. 27, 12:41 P.M.: The Orange County District Attorney's office has announced the charges against Gabriel Michael Castillo, the son of a veteran Orange County Fire Authority firefighter accused of setting the “East Fires” as well as previous vehicle fires.
The Anaheim Hills 19-year-old is charged with five felony counts each of arson of forest, three felony counts of arson of another's property, and one felony count of receiving stolen property.
A conviction could send Castillo to state prison for up to 13 years and eight months. The OCDA says it will ask for bail to be set at $100,000 at a scheduled arraignment hearing today.
Between May 29-31, Castillo allegedly started three vehicle arsons in Anaheim that resulted in no injuries but did damage property.
Around 12:20 p.m. on Aug. 19, Castillo is accused of starting a brush fire near Weir Canyon Road in Anaheim. Three hours later, he allegedly started three separate additional brush fires in Yorba Linda. About 3:30 p.m., he is accused of starting another fire west of California State Route 241 in Anaheim.
Castillo allegedly drove his Ford sports utility vehicle close to the fires. Later that day, cops found the SUV with a stolen watch and mobile phone inside, according to the OCDA.