Arsonist arrested for setting fire to Gustine patrol car, police say

GUSTINE, Calif. (KFSN) -- With a bright flash, a Gustine patrol car went up in flames, and it was all captured by the police department surveillance cameras.

What wasn't seen on camera is a police officer trying to put the fire out with an extinguisher. Detectives are saying it's an arson case.

"We feel this was focused on law enforcement. We don't know if it was retaliation," said Gustine Police Lt. Sam Joseph.

They say the man behind the attack is Hector Manuel Delacruz of Gustine.

"We believe that someone threw gasoline on the car, on the patrol car, which caused the fire," Joseph said.

Detectives say he may also be behind another vehicle arson that took place about a week prior.

According to police, Delacruz set ablaze two vehicles in a driveway.

Images capture the intensity of the flames and the damage left behind.

"The suspect is related to that family at that residence, and they feel he did it. He is the one that did it," Joseph said.

The Gustine Police Department, composed of about eight officers, is now down to just four vehicles.

Delacruz is currently booked in the Merced County jail, facing up to five felony charges, including arson.

The Gustine Police Department says detectives are currently working on insurance claims and hope to have the destroyed vehicle replaced within the next three weeks.
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