Arson arrests made across the west coast as fires rage on

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A note from our National Spokesman – Friday, 11 pm: 

Our team at Law Enforcement Today has made the decision to change the title of the original article, which referenced an investigation into whether some of the arson cases are tied together.  Allow us to explain why.

In this highly polarized world in which rumors spread just as fast as wildfires, we found that individuals were politicizing the original article.  The intent of sharing the information from our sources was to make people aware of the possibility that the cases were tied together… and to keep people on high alert about arson cases. 

But the sad truth of it is that some people will simply read headlines without actually reading the article, and conflate factual information with rumors that they’ve seen online.

Every single officer that works with Law Enforcement Today – active and retired – will tell you of the importance of “see something, say something”.  It’s never been more applicable than it is today.

Homes are on the line.  Lives are on the line.  The spreading fires are impacting members of our staff as well who are preparing to evacuate.

In the article below, we share with you what has been confirmed, including a number of arson arrests, along with the rumors that law enforcement has been able to dispel.

A note to all of our first responders out there putting their lives on the line every single day to protect our citizens and this great country… as always, we pray for the safety of you and your family.

Update – Thursday, 11:35pm:

Contrary to rumors that have been circulating, there is currently no evidence to tie the wildfires to either far-right or far-left activists. And while investigations are underway into the causes of a number of the fires, we have been able to confirm that suggestions that Antifa members have been arrested are unfounded.

“Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON,” the Douglas county sheriff’s office posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The Ashland, Oregon police chief also weighed in to the Oregonian:

“One thing I can say is that the rumor it was set by Antifa is 100% false information. We have some leads, and none of it points in that direction.”

A spokeswoman for the Oregon department of forestry spoke to the New York Times about those rumors about Antifa as well:

“We’re not seeing any indications of a mass politically influenced arson campaign.”

Here’s what we do know so far:

A number of wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and California are now being considered arson, and several arsonists are already in jail – while there are more on the run, we’re told.

On Wednesday, September 10, 2020, Troopers in Puyallup, Washington said they arrested a 36-year-old Puyallup man caught setting a fire in the brush. This was along State Route 167 in Puyallup in the median of SR 167 at Meridian.

The fire started to spread, but the Puyallup Police closed the northbound ramp on the highway. He told troopers he was looking for a camera. They still took the suspect to jail.

Another arson suspect was arrested in Spokane after allegedly starting multiple fires.

Christine Comello,36, was arrested after allegedly starting multiple fires in Spokane on Monday. Officer Mohondro arrived on the scene where he witnessed some grass and a palette outside of a commercial business on fire. There was reasonable evidence the fire was started by a human and not lightning or telephone poles.

Mohondro spotted another fire a few blocks away. This was next to an old oil drum under a tree. This could cause the fire to explode into something much larger. The Spokane Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire.

More units arrived in the area and detained Comello. She originally lied about her name, but it was discovered she had a warrant for her arrest.

Witnesses identified her as the arsonist. As a result she was booked for 2nd degree arson, 1st degree arson and burglary.

A federal law enforcement source shared with Law Enforcement Today that the feds are looking into whether some of the cases are linked together… and warn there could be more “attacks”.

“We are reacting to a coordinated series of attempts to start fires anywhere and everywhere in Oregon. Public and Private lands, incorporated and unincorporated areas.

By all indications so far in the preliminary stages of these investigations there is a coordinated effort on the part of these individuals to start fires in areas that are the least protected and most vulnerable then slowing working their way into more populated areas and neighborhoods.

Please take this information as an advisory for you own account and welfare and please act in good faith with due diligence to plan accordingly for your own safety and the well being of your community.”

In Eugene, Oregan, Elias Newton Pendergrass, 44, was arrested on Tuesday. He was suspected of arson in a wildfire that that burned almost 400 acres, and caused evacuations west of Eugene. Pendergrass, a Mapleton resident, is accused of first-degree arson.

He allegedly started the fire in Sweet Creek Milepost 2, which covers 382 acres near Mapleton. He’s being held in the Lane County Jail.

A middle aged man with tattoos was determined to set fire at the state park in Dexter, Oregon.  

On Wednesday, September 9,2020 firefighters arrived to someone attempting to start fires at the Dexter State Recreation Area, an Oregon State Park. The park is along Highway 58. This is one of the few places people can travel in Oregon and not deal too heavily with fire.

Dexter Rural Fire, Chief Matt Peterson stated in a social media post:

“I don’t ever do this, but this is ridiculous!!!”

The man with the arm tattoos was seen starting two fires in the bushes towards the dam. Luckily, several people helped extinguish the fire before the firefighters could arrive. The suspect has a black German Shepherd, and he is driving a green Ford or Chevy SUV.

He asked the public to be on the lookout for a man with a black German Shepherd driving a green Ford or Chevy SUV. Anyone with information about the man is asked to contact law enforcement.

In Salinas, California, 37-year-old Anita Esquivel, is in the Monterey County Jail for arson. The California Highway patrol confirms Esquivel was arrested after allegedly starting fires intentionally along Highway 101 near Boronda Road.

This occurred after 9 a.m. but the number of fires were not released.

 

Law enforcement sources throughout Oregon and California did confirm for us that investigations are underway to see if a number of these fires are tied together.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated as new information becomes available.

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Warning: More police confirm reports of groups in residential neighborhoods, taking photos of homes with police cars in driveways

June 1, 2020 – WASHINGTON D.C. – Law enforcement officials from across the country have reached out to Law Enforcement Today asking us to warn police across America about a potential threat.

And since dropping the article on Monday morning, we’ve received word from numerous people letting us know they’ve seen similar suspicious activity in their communities.

We’ve spoken with countless officers in the past 12 hours from across the country – all of whom have reported that their departments have made internal changes over the past few days to ensure both the on-duty and off-duty safety of their officers.

Transparently – our team debated internally whether or not to cover this story.  We are America’s largest law enforcement owned and operated media outlet, and we are unapologetically pro-police. 

Although we don’t hesitate to call out and provide media coverage of bad apples, our priority is in giving the voice to law enforcement that they’re often denied in the mainstream media.

The last thing we want to do is put officers at risk by giving bad people ideas. 

But soon after this threat started spreading like wildfire online, we had law enforcement from across the country reach out.  They pointed out that the threat is already circulating. 

Many have asked us to address it so that departments are aware of it and can take precautions to make changes, if they deem it necessary – especially given how quickly it’s circulating. 

They made a valid point – it’s better to be aware of a potential danger and take precautions than to not know about it because of a national breakdown in communication.

It’s worth noting that we have NOT received any confirmation of this from the FBI.  With that said, a number of agencies have confirmed for us off the record that they’re aware of it and are making internal changes.  We’ve been asked for obvious reasons to not report which agencies they are.

Here’s what we’re told.

In a number of different communities in states ranging from California and Texas to Florida – reports have come in that small groups of individuals appear to be canvassing neighborhoods and taking pictures of homes that have police cruisers in the driveways.

“I can absolutely confirm this,” told us one police spokesman, who asked that his department be kept anonymous because of the threats.  “We’ve received multiple reports throughout the weekend both in terms of phone calls and alerts that neighborhood residents are putting out on community watch apps.”

It comes as police are receiving direct, personal threats through social media, calls and emails.

“We and our children are receiving threats,” one police lieutenant told Law Enforcement Today.

The departments we spoke with said that they’re currently making policy changes so that take-home police cruisers are either garaged or – for now – left at the police departments.

“We expect danger when on the job,” said one sergeant.  “But this is different.  They are threatening to burn down our homes and kill our families.”

Officials have also told us that they’re instructing officers to make other changes, such as making sure uniforms aren’t hanging in personal vehicles while driving into work.

“Effective starting this past weekend, no police vehicles – including unmarked vehicles – will be brought up,” one Captain told Law Enforcement Today.  “This isn’t to punish our guys – it’s to protect them and their families.”

We’ll keep you updated as this story develops – and you can send us information about what’s happening in your department or community at [email protected]  Vetted information and sources will be kept confidential.

If you’re following us on Facebook, make sure to click “Following – See First” or you might miss the updates, as social media often doesn’t show pro-police content.

Arson arrests made across the west coast as fires rage on

All of this comes as the Minnesota National Guard deals with what the FBI says is a ‘credible, lethal threat’.  As a result, activated units are now armed.

The National Guard’s top general requested military police units from out of state as a result of the threat.  He has not requested active-duty forces yet.

These threats reportedly came after officials worked to determine if extremist groups had infiltrated police brutality protests across the country.

Law enforcement is looking into if they deliberately tipped largely peaceful demonstrations toward violence.

To make matters worse, they’re investigating if foreign adversaries – such as Russia – were behind a growing disinformation campaign on social media.

On Saturday, an Antifa activist group put out a message that encouraged people to consider Minnesota National Guard troops “easy targets,” according to two Defense Department officials.

The activists were encouraged to steal “kit”, or the weapons and body armor used by the soldiers.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, reports one outlet.

Now, soldiers with the Minnesota National Guard have been armed during all missions at protests across the state.

The soldiers are sometimes – but not always – armed.  Yet for the past few days, they haven’t been armed as they’ve moved into parts of the state taken over by riots.

In the state, the troops do not currently have the authority to make arrests, and are there to act essentially as extra security for police.

There are currently more than 4,100 National Guard soldiers and airmen in Minneapolis.

Hours after President Trump declared that he’ll be designating Antifa as a terror organization, they reportedly made the ultimate threat – we’re bringing the war to the suburbs.

Now authorities are on high alert – regardless of who may be behind it.

 

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Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing!  (See image below.)  Thanks for being a part of the LET family!

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