The suspect was identified as Daniel Catano, 32-years-old. He is now in custody
This story is based on a press release sent by the Morgan Hill Police Department July 11
The Morgan Hill Police Department began noting a series of suspicious fires beginning with two in April and two in May. By the time we reached the end of June, we had ten suspicious fires. The most significant arson fire was located on Depot Street at 5th Street, where Depot-Latala Development housing project was burnt down. There were other arson fires that involved vegetation, construction sites, dumpsters, and a Morgan Hill water pump shed fire.
The fires occurred along the Monterey Road corridor between West Edmundson / Tennant Avenue and Main Avenue.
Between July 3 and yesterday morning, July 10, we responded to and documented an additional 10 suspicious fires.
On July 8, officers responded to Community Park located at 225 W. Edmundson Avenue on a report of a fire near the duck pond. Upon arrival, officers located a fire set to a pump house on the south side of the pond. Two separate witnesses reported seeing people in the area prior to the fire.
Later that day, officers responded to Bella Terra Apartments, located on the corner of Butterfield Blvd. at E. Dunne Avenue, for a report of a fire set to vegetation along the west fence line.
On July 10, 2023, at 8:16 a.m., Morgan Hill Officers responded to another suspicious fire at AMPM, located at 18605 Monterey Rd.
At 11:43 a.m., an employee of the Anritsu Company called to advise that a subject had been attempting to get into their building and stated that the subject resembled the person Gilroy Police Department had posted on social media as a person of interest in an arson investigation. When confronted by an employee, he fled into the parking lot.
While Morgan Hill Police Department responded, the caller told dispatch that the subject was breaking into vehicles. The suspect took a wallet and other miscellaneous items. He was last seen headed to the Wal-Mart parking lot. Officers circulated but did not locate anyone matching the description.
At 1:06 p.m., an auto burglary victim tracked her stolen air pods to the Wal-Mart parking lot and observed a subject wearing her stolen sunglasses. The victims (one of which was an off-duty parole agent) followed the suspect and provided updated location information to responding officers. An officer attempted to detain the suspect across from Britton Middle School, but the suspect fled on foot through backyards on Lindo Lane. A perimeter was set up with a yard-to-yard search conducted; however, the suspect evaded officers.
At 7:55 p.m., another suspicious vegetation fire was started at Hale and Llagas. A suspicious person was sighted running northbound on Hale Avenue. Another foot pursuit ensued, and the suspect made his way into the Peebles and Burnett area. This area had fields, nurseries, greenhouses, and orchards.
At one point, the suspect entered a residence on Peebles and fought with the occupants before fleeing.
Morgan Hill Police Department received mutual aid from the Sheriff’s Department, San Jose Police Department’s helicopter, and Campbell Police Department’s Drone operators. Two K9 units were used to search the large area and were unable to locate the suspects after a four-hour grid search.
This morning, July 11, 2023, an off-duty Police Captain from Piedmont Police Department on his way to work received a call from a community member informing him of a suspicious person they believed the police were searching for last night. He was directed to the suspect and detained him while Santa Clara County Sheriff Deputies and Morgan Hill Police Department officers responded.
The suspect was identified as Daniel Catano, 32-years-old. He is now in custody and will be formally charged multiple counts of 459PC Burglary (2 counts), 451 PC Arson (6 counts), 459PC Auto Burglary, 488PC Theft, 148(a)(a)PC Resisting, Delaying, obstructing (2 counts), 496PC Possession of Stolen Property.
Catano has also been identified as the suspect in several fires within the City ofGilroy and was subsequently charged with an additional 8 counts of arson.
During a joint interview with Morgan Hill and Gilroy detectives, Catano confessed to as many as 15 fires in the South County.
This crime spree was quickly resolved through the collaboration and partnership of our community sharing information with law enforcement—Thank you!
The Morgan Hill Police Department is grateful for the assistance of the Gilroy Police Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, Campbell Police Department, San Jose Police Department, California State Parole, and the Piedmont Police Department Captain.
This investigation is ongoing, and anyone who may have information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Detective Scott Martin at: (669) 253-4981 or email at [email protected]
Additionally, information can be given anonymously at: https://www.morgan-hill.ca.