Cheung Sheng Chinese restaurant in Hollister was destroyed in a series of fires on Nov. 2 that affected 10 businesses and numerous vehicles. Photo: Juan Reyes

Police on Monday night announced a 21-year-old man has been arrested in relation to a series of fires and vandalism incidents in downtown Hollister early in the morning Nov. 2.

David Anthony Pequeno was arrested in the area of the 200 block of San Benito Street, and booked at the county jail about 6:30pm Nov. 2, Hollister Police said in a press release. He is accused of four counts of felony arson in relation to numerous structure fires that destroyed or damaged at least 10 businesses in downtown Hollister.

Police said additional charges related to a number of vehicle vandalisms, reported to authorities within minutes of the early-morning fires, are pending.

David Anthony Pequeno

Pequeno is the only suspect believed to be responsible for the Nov. 2 rash of crimes, Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso said. The press release noted that there is no evidence the arson and vandalism spree were “in any way” related to politics or the election.

Calls reporting a series of fires started about 2am Nov. 2, according to Hollister Police. Emergency authorities first received a call of a car on fire on McCray Street near Santa Ana Road. Minutes later, authorities received a report of another vehicle on fire on Second Street, near Sally Street.

After that, authorities received a report of a restaurant on fire on Sixth Street, followed by a call reporting a blaze at a commercial building on Fifth Street at the corner of East Street.

Hollister Fire Department responded to the structure fires to find the buildings already engulfed in flames, according to authorities. Firefighters were able to put out the fires and contain them from spreading to nearby buildings.

The businesses where the first two fires were reported—Cheung Sheng Chinese restaurant and She’s Consignment & Gifts—were completely destroyed, authorities said. A total of 10 businesses were “destroyed or affected in some manner.” 

While the fires were burning, Hollister Police began receiving calls reporting slashed tires on parked vehicles in the area of West Graf Road, and in the area where the initial car fires occurred. Officers viewed the fires and vehicle damage as suspicious and likely connected, and authorities from the San Benito County Arson Task Force began to investigate with the assistance of local, state and federal agencies.

Investigators reviewed footage from downtown cameras and noticed a vehicle that appeared at two of the fire locations, police said. Other officers recognized the vehicle from an earlier contact.

About 12pm Nov. 2, Hollister Police officers located the suspect’s vehicle near the 200 block of San Benito Street, authorities said. Officers conducted surveillance on the vehicle, and eventually watched the suspect leaving the area in another vehicle.

About 2pm, officers conducted a felony vehicle stop and detained Pequeno, police said. The vehicle was impounded and police searched his residence. He was booked at the county jail, where he remains in custody with bail set at $1,000,004.

The investigation is ongoing, police said.

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