Police Arrest Arson Suspect in at Least 15 Fires Set in South Santa Clara County

Morgan Hill police arrested a man Tuesday who they say confessed to setting 15 fires in southern Santa Clara County.

Police arrested Daniel Catano, 32, on suspicion of multiple counts of arson as well as for burglary, auto burglary, theft, resisting arrest and possession of stolen property, according to a press release from the Morgan Hill Police Department.

The arrest comes after a series of suspicious fires in Morgan Hill and Gilroy since April.

The most significant fires include one in which a housing development under construction on Depot Street in Morgan Hill was burned to the ground, police said.

Catano is also suspected of setting at least eight other fires in Gilroy and committing an auto burglary July 10 in Morgan Hill, when one of the victims—an off-duty officer—followed the suspect, who was able to evade officers.

Police released this map which they said shows the location of fires set by suspect Daniel Catano.  Courtesy, Morgan Hill Police Department

Following reports from witnesses who observed someone setting a fire Monday night at Hale Avenue and Llagas Road in Morgan Hill, police received assistance from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, San Jose Police Department's helicopter and Campbell Police Department's drone operators. Two K9 units were used to search the large area and were unable to locate the suspects after a four-hour grid search.

A witness helped lead authorities to Catano and police arrested him early in the morning July 11.

Police reported that during their interview with Catano he confessed to setting as many as 15 fires. Catano was booked at Santa Clara County Jail.

The arson incidents included dumpster fires, vegetation fires and a pump shed fire near the Morgan Hill Community Park duck pond, police said. Many of the fires occurred along the Monterey Road corridor from Tennant to Main avenues.

On July 10, an employee at a business in north Morgan Hill called police to report a man attempting to break into the building resembled a suspect wanted by Gilroy Police, according to Morgan Hill police. When the suspect was confronted, he fled and broke into some vehicles in the parking lot, stealing a wallet and other items.

Later on July 10, as the suspect, later identified as Catano, was fleeing the scene of the fire he set near Hale and Llagas, he entered a home on Peebles Avenue and fought with the residents before fleeing again, police said.

The statement from Morgan Hill Police said officers were grateful for the assistance of the Gilroy Police Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, Campbell Police Department, San Jose Police Department, California State Parole and the Piedmont Police Department captain.

This investigation is ongoing, and anyone who may have information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Detective Scott Martin at 669.253.4981 or email at [email protected].

Jeff Ballinger is a reporter with Bay City News.



One Comment

  1. Of course, no one is allowed to inquire whether the suspect was an illegal alien, because that apparently would infringe on his “right” to be here—and, oh, incidentally to set fires and steal things.

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