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Man sentenced to 13 years in state hospital for burning multiple Hollister businesses

hollister fire
Ignacio Velazquez, Hollister Mayor
David Anthony Pequeno

HOLLISTER, Calif. (KION) UPDATE APRIL 22, 2022 at 1:30 p.m.-- A man was sentenced to 13 years and 6 in a state hospital for multiple counts of arson that left some Downtown Hollister businesses destroyed in November of 2020.

David Anthony Pequeño was initially found guilty on all four counts of felony arson and 9 counts of vandalism by a San Benito County judge, according to the San Benito County District Attorney's Office.

Pequeño pleaded "not guilty by reason of insanity" when he first appeared in court and three doctors evaluated, agreed and said his plea was valid.

On Thursday the judge then sentenced Pequeño to a state hospital where he will receive treatment and mental health services.

The DA's office added that he will be evaluated periodically to determine if he can be released into the community.


UPDATE: 11/2/20 9 p.m. - A 21-year-old man has been arrested for a series of early Monday morning fires in downtown Hollister.

David Anthony Pequeño is being charged with four counts of felony arson.  His bail is set at $1,000,004. 

David Anthony Pequeño, Source: Hollister Police Department

Hollister Police say downtown cameras showed a vehicle seen at two of the fire locations. After watching the vehicle throughout the day, police stopped Pequeño who they saw leaving in a different car at around 2 p.m.

Police searched Pequeño's home after he was detained. A news release published Monday night writes that there are additional pending charges related to vehicle vandalism.

The fires were started the morning before Election Day. Police say- "It is important to note, at this time, the investigation has revealed no information that indicates these arsons and vandalisms are in any way political or related to the election.


UPDATE 11/2/2020 1:30 p.m. The Hollister Fire Department is investigating a series of suspicious fires that burned down two structures Monday morning.

At around 2 a.m., the fire department got a call about a car on fire on McCray Street near Santa Ana Road, and within a few minutes, another car fire was reported on Second Street near Sally Street.

After the reports of car fires, there was a report of a fire at the Cheung Sheng restaurant on 6th Street and a fire at a commercial building on the corner of 5th Street and East Street. When crews responded, the buildings were already engulfed, so they worked on putting it out and keeping it from spreading to other buildings.

Up to ten businesses were impacted by the fires. Both structure fires were total losses, but nobody was injured.

While crews were fighting fires, Hollister police got reports of slashed car tires around West Graf Road and near the two-car fires. Police believe the vandalism may be connected to the fires.

The fires are considered suspicious, and the arson task force is investigating..

Law enforcement is looking at surveillance cameras in the area, and lab samples have been taken to find out if accelerants were used.

Anyone with information is asked to call Hollister police at 831-636-4330. To remain anonymous, call 800-78-CRIME.

PREVIOUS STORY: A fire in downtown Hollister has destroyed two local businesses. The fire was reported in the 200 block of 5th Street.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez posted on Facebook some of the damage.

In Velazquez' post he said: "So sad to lose two family owned businesses, The Cheung Sheng restaurant (Red Dragon) on Sixth and East and She’s on East and Fifth. Thank you to all the firefighters involved in fighting the fires! Law enforcement is already investigating."

The San Benito County Sheriff's office released a statement saying the nearby polling locations will still be open for the election tomorrow.

"Our community should feel comfortable and encouraged to use the Vets Building and Elections Office to visit the polls. The downtown fire is only affecting East St from 4th St to 6th St. For Vets Hall access, you are encouraged to use the parking lot on 7th St west of San Benito St and walk to the polls. Thank you for being considerate to our firefighters."

San Benito County Sheriff's Office

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Article Topic Follows: San Benito County

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