In less than two weeks time, eight car fires were reported in Campbell, San Jose and Santa Clara County. The culprit behind the fires was a known transient, 38-year-old Jason Gilliland. The San Jose Fire Department and Santa Clara County Fire where investigating three vehicle fires that were ignited before finding the suspect nearby. Gilliland was arrested by San Jose Police on December 31, 2014, just moments after midnight.
Gilliland was charged with PC 148.9, giving a false name to a peace officer, three charges under PC 451(D) for felony arson for three car fires, and HS 11550(A), for being under the influence of a controlled substance.
According to Capt. Christopher Salcido, The SJFD was not releasing any further information about the arson case due to an ongoing investigation into the number of car fires started by the suspect. Salcido told reporters “The San Jose Fire Department Arson Investigation Team has been actively investigating these car fires and monitoring that area.” According to available records, Gilliland was seen near several car fires before running away from the area when authorities arrived. Gilliland was detained and found to be under the influence and in possession of incendiary device believed to have been used in starting the fires.
A mental health evaluation has been issued for the suspect in order to better determine how to handle his case. Erica West with the Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney’s Office said, “He is accused of starting eight vehicle fires” which date back to December 22. Gilliland is being held under a $500,000 bail warrant.
Past arrest records show a propensity for fire, along with drug or alcohol use. He was arrested in 2008 and 2009 for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol in public. Later in 2009, on September 19, he was arrested in Fremont for possession of flammable material. The charge was repeated in May of 2010 in San Jose, and May of 2012 in Campbell. And again in July of 2013, he was charged with felony possession of material or a device for arson.