Surveillance video helps police make arrests in Alameda fires

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- Police released the mugshots of the two men accused of setting as many as eight fires over the weekend.

Investigators don't know a motive, but several security cameras helped police track down the people they believe are responsible. They are also looking into whether there's a connection to five fires they believe were also intentionally set in Oakland early Friday.

The video captured on a surveillance camera outside Jim's Coffee Shop shows a man lurking in the back parking lot looking into the windows of Brite Cleaners on Park Street in downtown Alameda.

Five minutes later, flames erupted in the same spot, ripping through the dry cleaners and delivery vans. The fire gutted the business and a restaurant next door.

"It's a real mess and it's too bad something like this happened here," said one customer.

"I dropped some clothes off so I was wondering if they were going to put a sign up how do you put in a claim for my clothes?" asked Dolly O'Sheal a customer of Brite Cleaners.

Police arrested 22-year-old Andrew Gutierrez, a transient who frequents the area, and 27-year-old Stephen Petersen, who lives in Alameda. Police say they're responsible for torching cars, garbage cans and buildings early Sunday, which caused eight fires in total.

"We made the arrests in two different locations. Each of the arrests was made in close proximity to one of the arson fires," said Lt. Jill Ottavianol with the Alameda Police department.

Petersen's Facebook page says he attended San Francisco State University and includes pictures of him at protests and of an anarchist-type communist flag.

Meanwhile, Judy Simon is spending the day abruptly moving out of her damaged apartment off San Antonio Avenue. "Everything's wet. The ceiling's bulging. There's going to be mold. So I have to move out," she explained.

Her neighbors, a family of five, lost just about everything. Furniture, kids toys, even homework assignments sit in a big heap at the bottom of the staircase.

Firefighters estimate the damage at both the homes and the businesses to total $3 million dollars.
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