SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A man accused of starting a fire that engulfed a northern California Home Depot, prompted hundreds to flee and filled the sky with smoke was trying to cover up a theft of tools , authorities said on Tuesday.
Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27, of San Jose, was arrested last Friday. He appeared in court on Tuesday and was given a public defender and a June 1 court date to enter a plea. He was being held without bail.
Gogue is charged with starting a fire that started in the wood section of the Home Depot in South San Jose on April 9. He was trying to create a distraction while fleeing with a cart full of tools but left without taking them, prosecutors said. .
The five-alarm fire destroyed the store, causing damage estimated at $17 million to the store’s contents. The fire, which took around 100 firefighters six hours to bring under control, emitted a huge plume of black smoke. Residents of nearby homes and businesses have been urged to stay indoors over fears the smoke may contain toxic chemicals.
The blaze burned nearly hundreds of homes and was so hot it was seen by satellites, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said at a news conference.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said the fire broke out on a weekend when the store was full of customers and he was grateful his office was “not pursuing a case.” multiple murders today”.
“By a miracle, no one was hurt,” he said. “But it came close – much, much too close – to many injuries and deaths.”
Gogue allegedly stole items from a Bass Pro Shop before the fire, and he later stole from a Macy’s store, authorities said.
In addition to aggravated arson, he is also charged with grand larceny and petty theft involving shoplifting at six stores in south San Jose between last October and April 2.
The new theft charges span from October 2021 to April 2, involving $17,000 worth of items from six retailers in South San Jose. He could face a life sentence if convicted on all charges, prosecutors said.