A suspected serial arsonist, who allegedly set off a string of fires in in San Jose this month, was charged in Santa Clara County on Friday with 10 counts of arson and three counts of attempted arson. Marianne Favro reports.
A suspected serial arsonist, who allegedly set off a string of fires in in San Jose this month, was charged in Santa Clara County on Friday with 10 counts of arson and three counts of attempted arson.
Patrick William Brennan, 48, did not enter a plea. His court case was continued until Feb. 6.
Court documents indicate that Brennan told police that he started the blazes, and that he knew the locations and the times each of the fires started. According to Deputy District Attorney Bus Porter, Brennan used debris, dried vegetation - and once, even a paper bag lying nearby - to start the fires with a cigarette lighter.
Brennan was arrested Wednesday evening in connection with a string of a dozen intentionally set fires from Jan. 8 to Jan. 12. The biggest fire was a five-alarm blaze on Jan. 9 at a Julian Street warehouse that is estimated to cost $5 million in damages. Two fires were set across from the mobile home where he lived on E. San Antonio Street at Greater St. John Baptist church. The first of those fires caused $75,000 in damage to the church, according to the court documents.
In all, the fires Brennan is accused of setting did more than $6 million in damage, according to prosecutors, who added that six of the homes they say Brennan set ablaze were occupied.
No one was injured in any of the blazes, but they did terrorize the city. People wondered where the arsonist would strike next. San Jose neighbors described Brennan as a loner, and chain smoker, who often carried a police scanner.
“He didn’t talk to anybody,” Dave Stamp said. “He would just go about his business and we would go about ours.”
Brennan is also a convicted sex offender, and a registered arsonist in Campbell, according to San Jose police, dating back to a fire he was convicted of setting at Grand Canyon National Park in 1995. In 1999, Brennan was arrested by the California Department of Forestry in connection with a string of 16 fires set in the hills above Los Gatos, Cupertino and San Jose.
After initially being held on $1 million bail, the judge on Friday ordered Brennan held without bail.
RAW VIDEO: 5-Alarm Warehouse Fire in San Jose
If he's convicted on all counts, according to prosecutors, Brennan could serve multiple life terms and would remain in prison for the rest of his life.