Daniel Catano, who is accused in a recent arson spree that includes more than a dozen fires and other crimes in Morgan Hill and Gilroy, was charged July 13 with numerous felony counts in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
Catano, 32 of Gilroy, was arrested by Morgan Hill Police July 11 after he set a vegetation fire, then broke into a home and assaulted the residents as he fled from officers, according to authorities. Investigators say Catano is responsible for intentionally setting at least 15 fires in South County dating back to April, including a blaze in downtown Morgan Hill that burned a housing project to the ground.
On July 13, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s office announced that Catano has been charged with 10 felony arson charges in relation to the recent crime spree. He was set for an arraignment hearing at 1:30pm.
If convicted, Catano faces a lengthy prison term.
“The public, the police and the firefighters have now done their jobs—and now we will do ours,” Rosen said in a press release. “I am deeply thankful that no one was hurt or killed. This dangerous man’s personal fire season is over.”
The first fire for which Catano is charged was set about midnight June 28, when he lit up a condominium complex that was under construction on Depot Street in Morgan Hill. The fire caused evacuations from nearby homes.
The second wave of fires was set soon afterwards in July, authorities said. Catano set seven fires on July 6 in Gilroy—burning fences, a vehicle, dumpsters and some brush near a motel.
On July 10, a witness called 911 to report a man fleeing from a brush fire in Morgan Hill, the DA’s press release continues. Morgan Hill Police officers stopped a man that was positively identified as Catano. The defendant fled from the scene, evading capture in a multiagency manhunt that included the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and the Gilroy Police Department.
The next morning, an off-duty Piedmont police captain recognized and arrested the suspect, authorities said.
Police are working with the DA’s office and Cal Fire to determine if Catano is connected to any other fires in the area. Anyone with information about these arson incidents can contact Supervising Deputy DA Michel Amaral at 408.201.0538 or [email protected].