Ventura County – When considering where to perpetrate an act of arson upon county vehicles, one might reasonably assume that the parking lot adjacent to a county jail facility would not be the best choice.
Jeffrey Landis, a 36-year old resident of Santa Monica, however, appears not to be the sort of pyromaniac who gives much credence to such considerations as evidenced by the events transpiring in the pre-dawn hours of February 21st in the parking lot of the Ventura County Government Center.
According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Captain Don Aguilar, it was approximately 4:15 a.m. on the date when officers of the California Highway Patrol, on their way out of the immensely monolithic county jail officially euphemized as the “Pre-Trial Detention Facility”, spotted flames in the adjacent parking lot and immediately alerted nearby Sheriff’s Deputies.
As Deputies rushed to the scene, they spotted Landis in close proximity to five flaming cars, and when they attempted contact with him, he resisted any suggestions that he was responsible for the conflagration, whereupon “less than lethal force and a Sheriff’s K-9 was used” to take him into custody. As Ventura County Fire units arrived to extinguish the flames, a backpack belonging to Landis was observed nearby, referenced by Landis as containing an explosive device.
That remark brought out the Sheriff’s Bomb Squad who “rendered the backpack safe,” according to Aguilar. While VCFD personnel doused the ashes and prepared to clean up the mess he’d created by torching the cars—three of which belonged to the county—Landis was transported to Ventura County Jail within walking distance, and was booked on charges of arson and resisting arrest with his bail set at $20,000.
Photos: courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking, www.OnScene.TV
VCSTAR: Arson County Government Center remains under investigation
CBSLA: Suspect in custody for arson