Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
January 5, 2010
Susan Kang Schroeder
MECHANIC TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR SETTING TRANSIENT AND POSSESSIONS ON FIRE
BY DOUSING SHOPPING CART WITH GASOLINE
SANTA ANA – An automobile mechanic will be arraigned today on charges of lighting a transient and his possessions on fire after dousing the victim’s shopping cart with gasoline. Hector Manuel Medina, 32, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of arson causing great bodily injury with a sentencing enhancement for arson with an accelerant. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison. Medina is being held on $100,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned today, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
On Jan. 2, 2010, Medina is accused of working as a mechanic at Firestone Complete Auto Care at 100 S. Main Street in Santa Ana. At approximately 3:45 p.m. the defendant is accused of seeing 64-year-old transient Ruben Sandoval in the alley behind the auto shop. Medina is accused of becoming angry because the victim was back in the area after the defendant had warned him to leave and not return after finding Sandoval sleeping in his car on a rainy day two weeks earlier.
Medina is accused of taking a gas canister from the garage, approaching the victim and his shopping cart, and dousing the cart with gasoline. Some of the gasoline splashed from the cart onto Sandoval. Medina is accused of then lighting the cart on fire with a match. Flames from the cart jumped and lit the victim’s beard on fire. Sandoval attempted to put out the flames on his face and caught fire to his hands.
A co-worker at the auto shop called 9-1-1. Sandoval suffered second and third degree burns to his body, face, and hands. All of the contents of his cart were destroyed, including all of his clothes, blankets, and food. Medina is accused of fleeing the scene. He was arrested shortly thereafter near his home.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.