REDLANDS – Police arrested a 21-year-old Mentone man who is believed to have set three fires at different locations, targeting the Redlands school system.
Robert Aaron Trujillo was taken into custody on Wednesday night at a residence located on the 3000 block of Mill Creek Rd. in Mentone, a neighboring community.
Trujillo is suspected in a burglary at the Church of the Nazarene. While investigating that burglary, police discovered forensic evidence that linked Trujillo to two of the fires that were set early Wednesday, according to city spokesman Carl Baker.
A fire occurred at the Redlands Unified School District transportation yard, while another fire was set at a classroom at Redlands High School, located just a short distance from the transportation yard, which houses about 60 school buses on Central Ave. A third fire was started on the school’s north side campus.
Baker said police also located stolen property from the school, left behind during the burglary of the church. Crime lab reports were expedited, said Baker, in order to identify and locate Trujillo. He did not disclose the evidence.
It took fire crews about 15 minutes to control one blaze which destroyed a school bus and an empty utility trailer at the transportation yard. Emergency personnel had arrived on the scene at 4 a.m. Another school bus was damaged, said Baker.
Fire crews took about 30 minutes to control the blaze on the school’s north campus. Baker said no classrooms were damaged by the fire, but detectives noted that the arsonist tried to get into classrooms before setting the fire.
Baker said Trujillo, who had attended schools in the Redlands district, graduating in 2011, did not attend Redlands High School. Police believe that Trujillo walked to Mentone on Wednesday night from an unknown location, pushing a wheelchair after burglarizing the church. They discovered four boxes of cheese, believed to be stolen by Trujillo from an unknown location. They are trying to determine where the cheese was stolen from. Trujillo was found with stolen property from the church in his possession, according to reports. A search at another Mentone location uncovered more stolen property from the church.
No one was injured in the fires and the school district is on a two-week spring break. Police have released no motives for the fires. Four engines, a truck, a medic squad and a battalion chief responded to the three fires, along with Redlands police.
Redlands Daily Facts: Mentone man arrested in connection with fires