Photo: Gonzalez under arrest
TULARE – A man lost his life due to injuries he suffered when a Newport, Oregon hotel he was staying in caught fire on August 6th. When firefighters arrived at the Knights Inn Hotel, thick smoke was pouring out of a corner of the building.
There were reports of guests trapped on the second floor but aggressive flames kept firefighters from completing a search. Once the flames were under control, firefighters returned to the second floor and found the badly burned man, along with two others who needed treatment for smoke inhalation.
Investigation into the fire suggested arson. Further investigation led detectives to name 26-year Jonathan Leo Mendez Gonzalez as a person of interest.
Oregon detectives contacted Tulare County Sheriff’s Office to ask them for help locating the Earlimart resident. Violent Crimes Detectives located Gonzalez and arranged for Oregon detectives to interview Mendez about the fire.
Then, with enough evidence supporting an arrest, Oregon detectives secured a $2 million warrant for Gonzalez’s detainment. On Oct 12th by TCSO’s Violent Crimes Unit and the CATTCH Fugitive Apprehension Team arrested Gonzalez at a home in Earlimart.
Finally, Gonzalez is currently at the Ault Pre-Trial awaiting extradition to Oregon. He faces charges of –
- arson in the first and second degree;
- manslaughter in the first and second degree;
- criminally negligent homicide;
- assault in the third degree;
- criminal mischief in the first and second degree;
- theft in the first degree;
- and reckless burning.
Photo from Tulare County Sheriff’s Office