SAN FRANCISCO -- San Jose police announced Thursday that a man suspected of setting more than a dozen fires in the downtown core during a recent six-night period has been taken into custody.
Patrick William Brennan, 48, lives in the downtown San Jose neighborhood where the fires began Jan. 7, police said. Brennan reportedly has been arrested before in connection with arson cases dating to the 1990s.
Brennan was booked into Santa Clara County jail Thursday on two counts of felony arson. The jail website lists his bail amount as $1 million.
Brennan is also a registered sex offender, according to the Megan's Law directory. It lists him with an undated sexual battery charge.
"We are extremely certain that we have the man responsible," Assistant Police Chief Edgardo Garcia said at a Thursday morning press briefing.
Police spokesman Albert Morales said the suspect had been taken into custody at 8:10 p.m. Wednesday by the Covert Response Unit. His identity was not revealed until Thursday.
There were 13 fires in all, started with newspaper at the exterior of the structures. Among the damage: A warehouse was torched; an elderly couple's home destroyed (they escaped without injury in a close call); and a church trailer burned -- twice. The last of the fires occurred early Sunday morning.
The San Jose firefighters union had offered a reward leading to an arrest and Councilman Sam Liccardo, whose district was affected, gathered volunteers over the weekend to pass out fliers and arrange for round-the-clock vigils.
Liccardo praised the arrest, saying police officers worked overtime and firefighters "performed extraordinarily to prevent any injuries or fatalities despite having to respond to 13 separate arson attacks."
"Many members of our community stepped up with bravery and selflessness, keeping watch through the night hours, informing their neighbors of safety tips, and ultimately assisting SJPD in identifying and finding the suspect," he added. "We’re all sleeping better because of this extraordinary collective effort.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Brennan's background had drawn police interest and he had been under surveillance since Sunday.
Brennan was arrested in 1999 in connection with 16 arson fires in the Santa Clara County foothills, the San Jose Mercury News reported. He had also been arrested on a misdemeanor arson charge in the mid-1990s for setting fire to forest debris in and around Grand Canyon National Park.
At the time of his 1999 arrest, Brennan was a car wash employee who for a time lived in Campbell.
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