FRESNO – A police truck was among three vehicles set on fire Monday in southwest Fresno in response to controversies engulfing the Bay Area Rapid Transit and a Fresno police shooting back on Aug. 1.
Investigators in Fresno discovered the burned vehicles this past Monday at a southwest Fresno police substation parking lot. Police believe the truck was the main target. Two vehicles parked next to the police truck were also damaged. Officers were able to recover a flammable bottle that was used to start the fire.
It’s believed that the motive for the fire correlates to the protests at BART stations in San Francisco, as well as the shooting death of a man in Fresno’s Tower District earlier this month.
A Web forum discovered by the Fresno Police Union had one post claiming that the arson in Fresno was “done in solidarity” with those in the East Bay “standing up against the murderous BART police.”
The BART police force was in the news following the fatal shooting of a homeless man back in July, which was the third shooting death in three years involving a BART officer.
The fatal shooting, along with BART officials’ decision to cut off cellphone signals at station platforms ahead of an Aug. 11 demonstration, has attracted the interest of online activist organization Anonymous, which has organized protests at transit stations involving people wearing Guy Fawkes masks.
The Web forum discovered by the Fresno Police Union also featured a post that mentioned the officer-involved shooting of Carl Maggiorini, suspected of attacking a homeless man with a knife and threatening a police officer near Maroa and Hedges avenues in southeast Fresno. The author of the post claimed that police “executed” Maggiorini.
Monday’s arson represents the second attack against police this summer. Back in June, a brick was thrown through the front window of the city union police office. No one was inside the building when the incident occurred. Investigators feel the two events are not related.
For Jacky Parks, president of the Fresno Police Officers Association, the burned vehicles have raised concerns about officers’ safety.
“We should all have a heightened sense of safety right now,” Parks said. “There is a segment of the population that wants to harm police officers and people and we have to be prepared for that.”
Anyone with information about the fire at the police station is being asked to call Det. Annette Arellanes at (559) 621-5950.