There’s been a development in the case of four cars torched in Bernal Heights on New Year’s Eve, as someone, somewhere is in custody in connection with the investigation. But they’re in custody elsewhere “for an unrelated matter,” according to SFPD.
It’s been nearly an entire month since four cars were set on fire on New Year’s Eve on Park Street near Holly Park in Bernal Heights, with additional reports that the suspect tried to light a house on fire that evening too. And it’s had the neighborhood even more on edge that another car was torched not even ten days later, just five blocks away at San Jose and 30th streets.
Bernal Heights (94110) hit by arson Saturday, Dec 31.— Theo Marks (@MarksTheo32251) January 1, 2024
Several cars parked on the street and one parked in a residential driveway were torched.
Stay vigilant, neighbors! pic.twitter.com/I46YVIuM0r
But there has been a development, at least in regards to the New Year’s Eve car fires. The San Francisco Police Department tells SFist that someone is in custody, in another county, and they're being held for some reason other than the Bernal Heights fires.
“The subject is in custody in another county for an unrelated matter. We are not able to provide further information until that individual is charged in SF,” an SFPD spokesperson tells SFist.
It’s important to note SFPD uses the term “subject,” and not “suspect.” That indicates the individual in question is still the subject of the investigation, though not necessarily suspected of being the arsonist yet. Moreover, we don’t know where this individual is in custody (except that it’s somewhere outside the City and County of San Francisco), and there is no timeline for if or even whether that person could eventually face charges here.
But the phrase “until that individual is charged in SF” suggests some likelihood that SFPD or the DA’s office does intend to file charges.
Recognize him? He set a Christmas tree on fire on San Jose Ave. in Bernal Heights, which spread to a Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s the latest car fire in the area, per @SFPD #SFFire, seeking his ID pic.twitter.com/JwVV8vl2mY— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) January 12, 2024
We should also note there is no evidence or indication that this individual has any connection to the January 9 car fire on San Jose Avenue (seen above). And in that fire, someone lit a discarded Christmas tree, and the fire spread to an adjacent car.
So should Bernal Heights residents be confident that the “carsonist” is behind bars? There are still too many questions unanswered to be confident of that. But it does seem like law enforcement is connecting dots and making progress. And in this case, some vague and carefully worded news is better than no news at all.
Image: Bernalwood: Discussion via Facebook