Police are searching for a suspected arsonist responsible for the destruction of several vehicles at the Santa Monica BMW Dealership.
Authorities were notified of the fire at about 10:40 p.m. on Sept. 10. Police officers and firefighters responded to the scene within minutes. Witnesses gave a description of the suspect and provided a possible direction.
SMPD initially arrested a suspect in connection with the crime but later issued a statement saying he had been released “as evidence indicates he is not the suspect.”
According to SMPD, four used vehicles were destroyed and a fifth was partly damaged. Officials estimated the total loss as about $250,000. No home or residences were in danger.
Information provided by SMPD states the suspect used “ignitable liquid and open flame.”
Officers released surveillance photos of a suspect whose appearance is consistent with witness accounts. The images were taken at 10:21 p.m. and show a man with a red gas can purchasing $4 worth of gasoline from a gas station on the 1300 block of Santa Monica Blvd. Images from the dealership, while blurry, show a similar man with a red gas can pouring liquid onto the vehicles.
Arson investigations are conducted by a joint partnership between SMFD and SMPD. Firefighters are responsible for the initial response and fire investigation while the police department takes over any criminal proceedings.
Anyone with information encouraged to call Santa Monica Police Department 310-458-8491

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