Barstow man suspected of felony arson for allegedly scorching car a mile from his home
A Barstow man is in jail on suspicions of felony arson for allegedly torching another person's car in the driveway of their local home.
James Ochoa, 26, was arrested shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday by Barstow Police detective Austyn Willis and assisting officers after an overnight investigation led them to his local residence at 310 South Muriel Drive, according to a Barstow PD statement and San Bernardino County booking information.
The Barstow resident was being held at the county jail on suspicions of a felony arson charge defined in California's penal code as arson of property — which is "punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years" for those convicted — though Ochoa hadn't been officially charged with any crimes as of Wednesday in lieu of any court appearances.
The car fire occurred Monday night at home on the 700 block of Caliente Drive, which sits a few hundred feet south of the Barstow PD station and about a mile west of the house at which Ochoa was arrested Tuesday morning.
Barstow Police officer Eric Santos was first to respond to the scene of the fire shortly after 9 p.m. Monday and found the car "in the driveway of a residence with the front of the vehicle on fire," Barstow PD said in a Facebook post. Barstow Fire Protection District responded shortly after that and extinguished the fire.
Investigators appear to have found myriad evidence that night. Santos interviewed the unidentified owner of the vehicle and multiple other witnesses at the scene of the fire. Officers also tapped into surveillance footage of the area. They found "physical evidence on scene that was left behind by the suspect," which led them to identify Ochoa as the alleged culprit.
"Officers checked multiple locations for Ochoa during the evening but were unsuccessful in locating him," Barstow PD's Facebook post states. That led to the arrest at his apparent home in Barstow the following day.
Ochoa remained in custody as of Wednesday morning at the county sheriff's jail in Adelanto, High Desert Detention Center, according to his booking details. He was being held on a bail amount of $250,000, with his next court appearance set for 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Victorville Superior Court.
Charlie McGee covers California’s High Desert for the Daily Press, focusing on the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities. He is also a Report for America corps member with The GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and worldwide. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.
This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Barstow man suspected of felony arson for car fire near his home