A Northern California man was shoplifting from a Home Depot when he purposefully started a fire that was visible from space and destroyed the home improvement store while sending customers and employees running for their lives, police said Tuesday.
Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, 27, a San Jose resident, faces multiple felony charges, including aggravated arson, related to the April 9 blaze. He was arrested on April 15.
Santa Clara County prosecutors said he intentionally lit a fire in an aisle while stealing tools inside the 98,827 square foot store.
He is charged with aggravated arson, seven counts of grand theft and three counts of petty theft. The fire resulted in a loss of $17 million in inventory and prompted a response by more than 100 San Jose firefighters and public safety radio dispatchers.
"I speak for a grateful city in commending the outstanding work of our Fire and Police departments in saving lives and rapidly identifying the suspect. The DA’s charging decision appropriately recognizes the gravity and severity of harm posed by the suspect’s actions," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.
Investigators said Gogue lit the fire and tried to leave with a cart full of tools. He was stopped by a store employee and fled in a car. He also stole items from a Bass Pro Shop earlier in the day, prosecutors said.
He later shoplifted from a nearby Macy's department store, authorities said. As the fire raged, it grew so big that it was visible from space, authorities said.
"I'm thankful that my office is not prosecuting a multiple murder case," Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Tuesday during a news conference to announce the charges against Gogue. "Miraculously no one was hurt in this five-alarm fire that was so hot and so large that it could be detected from a satellite in space."
During their inquiry, investigators linked Gogue to a number of shoplifting incidents going back to Jan. 4. In one instance, he allegedly stole 25 pairs of men's Levi's jeans from a Kohl's department store. Days later, he took 30 more pairs of jeans from the same store, authorities said.
In February, he allegedly took a $1,500 piano keyboard from a Guitar Center. Over the course of several weeks, he also allegedly targeted a Sunglass Hut and a beauty supply shop.