DA Rosen said using a warrant, SJPD arrested Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27, of San Jose on Friday, April 15.
At his first court hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors pointed to theft as the real motive behind the fire that burned down the Blossom Hill Road Home Depot.
“Evidence shows that the suspect, who had stolen items from a nearby Bass Pro Shop earlier that day, set fire to the Home Depot and attempted to exit the store with a cart of stolen tools,” DA Rosen told reporters.
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Rosen said Gogue allegedly set a fire in an aisle, attempted to leave with a cart full of tools and left in a vehicle.
As the crowded 11 thousand-square-foot building burned down, Rosen said Gogue then continued his attempted robbery at an East Bay Macy’s.
Miraculously, no one was injured in this five-alarm fire that was so hot and so large…way, way too close to causing a lot of injuries and deaths, which caused an estimated $17 million in inventory loss. .
This is the suspect, Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27 from San Jose. The Santa Clara DA says he set fire in an aisle while trying to steal tools. He now faces felony arson and related charges. DA says he caused an estimated $17 million in inventory damage alone. pic.twitter.com/iudk8eyj3X
— Zach Fuentes (@ZachFuentesABC7) Apr 19, 2022
“Within days, investigators from the San Jose Police Department and ATF had a suspect using a warrant. San Jose PD arrested Gogue on Friday, April 15. Less than two weeks after his horribly reckless and criminal behavior, Home Depot left behind a burnt-out casing. .”
Gogue is charged with aggravated arson, seven counts of grand theft and three counts of petty theft, according to Rosen. These are charges that could carry Gogue 14 years to life.
“It’s certainly arson in that he apparently set a fire on purpose,” legal analyst and former prosecutor Steven Clark told ABC7 News. “The question remains whether it is aggravated arson, whether he intended to set the Home Depot on fire, or endanger many people. Or was he just planning to distract security?’
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Clark weighed in on the man’s alleged behavior. Court documents show that Gogue was suspected of involvement in a number of thefts between October 2021 and April 2022. Documents indicated that he had stolen merchandise from various companies with values ranging from $270 to more than $5,000.
“It looks like he’s someone who has committed a number of thefts and has been doing so for a long time, but that doesn’t necessarily make him an arsonist,” Clark said. “And I think people will ask why this fire started in this small way — to distract security apparently — but then turns into what we saw happening so quickly.”
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“It’s difficult, without all the available information — exactly how this fire was started and how quickly it spread. And so it’s possible that there’s enough combustibles in an area to overcome what the fire protection system ratings are,” he said. San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien, Jr. to reporters.
He went on to say that it is possible to have such a fire even in a protected structure.
“We are still in the process of determining the status of the fire protection systems in the building,” said the chief.
Witnesses who spoke to ABC7 News claimed there was no immediate fire alarm and no sign of active sprinklers. It is all under investigation, according to the fire service.
“We saw the ceiling go up in flames before an alarm went off,” said Jeff Baham, who was inside at the time of the fire. “It wasn’t until three minutes after we left that this giant plume of smoke came out and then we all knew it was time to leave.”
“In this case, if it’s really true, no suppression whatsoever within the sprinkler systems… It’s like, what happened? Was it overwhelmed? Wasn’t it enough? Or was it shut down? I guess that’s the thing The fire brigade – now with ATF assistance – will come out at some point and be present,” said park fire chief Harold Schapelhouman.
He added: “You can overwhelm sprinkler systems – and we’ve seen that before in large warehouses – meaning the fire gets so big, the sprinkler system’s ability isn’t there to put it out. So that’s a design problem, that’s a combustible load problem, that’s a code problem. And those are all real factors.”
When that time comes, he said what is eventually identified could lead to widespread improvements.
“It’s not like it’s the only Home Depot in the country, is it?” he added. “Nobody wants to duplicate this.”
Gogue appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon and was assigned a public defender. His next court date is June 1 at 1.30 pm
ABC7 News reached out to Home Depot after Tuesday’s development. The company released a statement saying, “We are deeply indebted to first responders, the San Jose Fire Department, the police and partner organizations for their prompt response and investigation leading to this arrest. Most importantly, we are grateful that no one was harmed, and that all our employees and customers are safe and accountable. Thank you to our employees for the quick action and courage they showed in quickly evacuating the building so that no one was injured.”
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