Suspect sought for SC city attorney's office fire

July 2, 2010 7:14:14 PM PDT
Police have identified a 52-year-old man accused of starting a fire this morning that caused more than $50,000 worth of damage to the building that houses the city attorney's office in Santa Cruz.

Miguel William Balderos, of Santa Cruz, is wanted for arson after allegedly starting a fire at about 4:15 a.m. at the Atchinson building at 333 Church St., according to police.

Police obtained a no-bail warrant for Balderos' arrest this afternoon.

The Atchinson building houses the city attorney's office, which was open for business today.

A security officer discovered the fire while he was patrolling the building after hearing a burglary alarm that was activated when the fire breached the building's front door, police said.

Santa Cruz firefighters responded and extinguished the fire. The security officer's swift action prevented more serious damage and loss, police said.

Investigators later determined that a recycling container had been set next to the front door of the building and ignited, according to police. The recycling container and contents were consumed in the fire.

The fire burned through the front door and caused damage to the surrounding area, including the building's entryway.

On Monday, graffiti was discovered on the building denouncing the city's camping ban and depicting anarchist symbols, police said.

Police used surveillance videos to identify Balderos as the suspected arsonist. Balderos is on parole and has an extensive arrest record dating back to 2000 for burglary, theft, trespass and assault with a deadly weapon.

Police said he has claimed to be affiliated with anarchist and anti-government groups, as well as camping-ban activists, in the past.

Balderos is about 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs about 158 pounds.

The Police Department is working with the FBI to determine if there is a connection to other similar incidents and is asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to call 911.

Anonymous information can be left on the Police Department's tip line at (831) 420-5995.


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