Rohnert Park councilman believes he was targeted by arsonist, FBI joins investigation

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ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Thursday, July 8, 2021
North Bay councilman believes he was targeted by arsonist
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In the North Bay, the FBI is now helping to look for an arsonist who used fireworks to send a message to a local politician.

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, the FBI is now helping to look for an arsonist who used fireworks to send a message to a local politician. Police believe it to have been a targeted attack.

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"Someone tried to send a message and someone tried to intimidate me," said Councilmember Willie Linaris. On the night of July 4, he found fireworks exploding and then igniting a recycling bin outside his home.

It is the second confirmed time that a councilmember has been attacked after a vote earlier this year to ban fireworks sales.

Last spring, Councilmember Jackie Elward received a racially threatening phone call on the same issue.

"The people who do this, I would say you are better than this and you can do better," said Elward.

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Rohnert Park has allowed the sale of safe and sane fireworks for many years. Some non-profits build their budgets around them.

As Genn Sutliff of the Rohnert Park Warriors told us last week, the organization would not exist without them.

"That would be very difficult."

Still, Sunday night, the Rohnert Park Police reported 201 fireworks related incidents, including the councilmember's recycling bin.

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At this point, the Rohnert Park Police have opened an investigation, but will not talk about suspects or confirm that they even came from here. In what bills itself as, The Friendly City, inflammatory reactions have embarrassed people on both sides of the issue.

"I thought it was terrible," said Kevin Ginger, who has helped lead support for fireworks sales.

He says whoever tossed them into the councilmember's recycling bin does not represent most of the people in this city, "I cannot imagine someone would do this on purpose."

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"Is this Rohnert Park?" we asked.

"Definitely not."

Rohnert Park will vote in a referendum about the fireworks ban this September.

It cannot come soon enough.

"Will it be my home next?" asked Linaris. "Will it come to City Hall?"