Santa Clara County

Palo Alto Man Arrested for Allegedly Setting Former Supervisor's Occupied House Ablaze

A South Bay man is behind bars after allegedly setting fire to his former supervisor’s house while it was occupied, police say.

The Palo Alto Police Department on Wednesday identified the suspect as 26-year-old city resident, Muhammad Hassan Khan.

Dispatch received a call at 6:19 a.m. Saturday, police say, from a person who lives on the 3400 block of Kenneth Drive and reported a fire in the house’s garage.

Investigators learned that a smoke detector went off, waking the house’s inhabitants – a couple in their 50s and a teenager – prompting them to dial 911. The victims, who discovered a garage full of smoke, also said that the man’s wife burned her hand when she tried to open the garage door, police said.

Meanwhile, the man went outside the house and found that the garage’s exterior and the house’s driveway were on fire. He used a garden hose to douse the flames before crews from the Palo Alto Fire Department arrived on scene, but not before the garage was damaged, police said.

Upon hearing about the nature of the fire, detectives immediately launched an arson investigation. They quickly honed in on Khan, who police described as a “disgruntled former employee” of the male victim, as a possible suspect.

Khan was arrested without incident Sunday at his home on the 500 block of Webster Street. He was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail and charged with two felonies – arson of an inhabited dwelling and attempted murder.

According to police, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has also charged him with one felony count of arson of an inhabited dwelling against the suspect, with an enhancement for using an accelerant.

An investigation is ongoing, police said, noting that the District Attorney’s office may still amend the charges against Khan.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department’s 24-hour dispatch at (650) 329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to (650) 383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through a free mobile app, which can be downloaded for Apple iOS and Android users.

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