The man suspected of starting a fire that destroyed a Home Depot store in San Jose earlier this month has been identified and records show he was charged with other crimes weeks before the arson.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and public safety leaders held a news conference Tuesday identifying the suspect as Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27, who they say set the fire then tried to walk out of the store with a cart full of stolen merchandise.
Gogue, who was arrested Friday, has been charged with felony aggravated arson and other crimes and was scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Clara County court on Tuesday afternoon.
NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit dug into the suspect's history and found a brief history of relatively minor crimes.
Findings show that about a year ago, Gogue was charged with misdemeanor battery. The case remains active.
Within the past few weeks, on March 8, Gogue was also charged with petty theft and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Gogue pled no contest and a judge sentenced him to a year of probation.
A week later he was charged again with petty theft, and once again on April 1. Both cases are still pending, according to court documents.
Days following his last charge, Gogue went to the Home Depot and started the massive fire to help him get away with a cart full of tools.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Gogue was stopped by an employee as he tried to exit the store with the stolen merchandise and then fled in a vehicle driven by another person. The DA added that Gogue also is suspected of stealing merchandise from a nearby Bass Pro Shops and a nearby Macy's on the same day.
“We have charged him with aggravated arson, seven counts of grand theft and three counts of petty theft," officials said during Tuesday's press conference. "The maximum sentence for these crimes is 14 years to life in prison.”
The five-alarm fire on April 9 leveled the Home Depot store on Blossom Hill Road, across the street from Westfield Oakridge Mall, in South San Jose.
It took more than 100 firefighters about 12 hours to knock the fire down, and while there were no serious injuries in the blaze, it forced a shelter-in-place for hours and the evacuation of more than 60 pets from the Wagly Pet Campus next door.
Officials said the fire caused an estimated $17 million in damage to the store.
In the days since, investigators and the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been looking through the debris for evidence to determine a cause and origin.
The day of the fire, witnesses said fire alarms and sprinklers didn’t go off until almost everyone was out of the store.
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Inspection records show that in December 2020, the San Jose Bureau of Fire Prevention asked the store to provide proof of its annual inspection of the alarm system and its five-year inspection for the sprinkler system or have it serviced “ASAP”.
That was done in January of 2021.
The last inspection was in October, asking the store to maintain a clearance in front of electrical panels at all times. The report shows it was fixed the same day.
During Tuesday's press conference investigators refused to elaborate on the getaway driver who assisted Gogue, but believe Gogue was was the only fire-starter.
"I am grateful this is only arson and theft investigation," Mayor Liccardo said and praised team effort in battling the fire and finding the suspect.
"There’s no doubt because of everyone’s efforts, the suspect will be held accountable to the full extent of the law," fire officials said.
Gogue will be back in court June 1.