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Update: Serial Arson Suspect Arrested

Registered arsonist and sex offender is believed responsible for 12 fires since last Jan. 8.

Left, San Jose serial arson suspect Patrick William Brennan and his suspect sketch. Courtesy SJPD
Left, San Jose serial arson suspect Patrick William Brennan and his suspect sketch. Courtesy SJPD

Updated: 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16: Bay City News: A man suspected of lighting at least 12 fires in San Jose, including a five-alarm warehouse fire, is behind bars and is being held on $1 million bail, police said today.

Patrick William Brennan, 48, of San Jose, was booked into the Santa Clara County Mail Jail on two counts of arson after police arrested him at about 8 p.m. Wednesday at his downtown home, San Jose police spokeswoman Heather Randol said.

While Brennan only faces two counts of arson for now, police said they believe he lit at least 12 fires between Jan. 8 and last Sunday, Randol said.

Police expect to discuss the case with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and arrest Brennan in connection with the other fires soon, Randol said.

A series of fires was set between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in the downtown area between Santa Clara Street and William Street and between 17th Street and 33rd Street and then two more fires were reported in the area on Sunday morning.

Police said they believe Brennan started what turned into a massive five-alarm fire at a 125,000-square-foot warehouse that housed several companies at the intersection of North 28th and Julian streets shortly before 5:30 a.m. 

Assistant Police Chief Eddie Garcia said, "We are fairly confident that that case is an arson and the person we have in custody is responsible for that."

San Jose Fire Division Chief Barry Stallard said fire investigators at first thought the warehouse blaze was not suspicious but then suspected arson because "when you start having successive fires in the same area, that one falls into the same group."

The estimated damage caused by all of the fires combined "is in the millions," Garcia said.

Police arrested Brennan without incident at his residence near East San Antonio Street, and he has been "very forthcoming" with investigators, Garcia said.
           
Information that led to Brennan's arrest came on Wednesday when a police sergeant researched people living in the area of the fires who had prior arrests for arson, Garcia said.

Brennan has been arrested in the past in connection with arson fires in California and outside the state, and is "a registered arsonist" locally, Garcia said.

Police then interviewed additional witnesses, reviewed surveillance video and then obtained a warrant for Brennan's arrest from a judge, Garcia said.

"The videos were crucial," Garcia said.

Garcia said he believes that Brennan was the man seen in surveillance videos showing a man lighting the arson fires.
 
"At this point, we are extremely certain that we have the individual responsible for all of the arsons that have occurred in the city," Garcia said.

Police are not yet sure about the suspect's motive, Garcia.

Updated: 10 a.m. Thursday: Jan. 16: The San Jose Police Department has identified this morning the arrested arson suspect as 48-year-old San José resident Patrick William Brennan. His booking mug was also released to the media. 

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10 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15: The San Jose Police Department and the San Jose Fire Department have arrested a man they suspect is responsible for the series of fires in San Jose that have struck fear across the South Bay. 

At approximately 8:10 p.m. Wednesday evening, the San Jose Police Department’s Covert Response Unit took the suspect into custody in connection with the more than a dozen arson fires that began Jan. 8. 

The suspect will be booked into the Santa Clara County Jail, police said.

The suspect's name and the circumstances surrounding his arrest will not be released Wednesday evening. Investigators are still conducting follow-up investigations and interviews at this time, San Jose police said in a media advisory. 

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Jeremy Barousse January 16, 2014 at 04:44 PM
I'm glad to hear he was finally apprehended! Kudos to SJPD and SJFD for their tireless efforts to find him and get him off the streets.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz January 16, 2014 at 05:52 PM
That scetch doesn't look anything like him?
Marilyn Leonard January 16, 2014 at 06:11 PM
I'm sure the residents of downtown San Jose will sleep better now knowing he has been apprehended.
Katherine Winkelman January 16, 2014 at 06:40 PM
Grateful he is caught.
Gary Hinze January 17, 2014 at 09:58 PM
Ha, ha! Brennen means burn. And the sketch does not look anything like him. The Innocence project has shown that eyewitness identification is highly unreliable.

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