A man has been arrested in connection with a series of suspicious vehicle fires in Long Beach, officials said Wednesday.
Cristian Portillo, 31, was taken into custody early Wednesday by the Long Beach Police Department and booked on suspicion of arson and possession of a concealed dirk or dagger. He is being held on $50,000 bail, police said.
Long Beach fire officials had previously described Portillo as a person of interest, and indicated he matched the description of a man seen in photos and videos near the blazes.
The series of vehicle fires began on Aug. 20 and occurred in an area between the Long Beach Convention Center and Camden Harbor View Apartments along Cedar Walk. Three of the five blazes occurred in the parking garage of the apartment complex, officials said.
On Tuesday morning, a truck was set on fire in the parking garage of the apartment complex, causing extensive damage.
Chelsea James, who lives in the complex, said the suspect kept getting into what’s supposed to be a secure parking structure. Her husband’s truck was torched a few weeks ago.
Since then, the couple has seen the man around the complex at all hours of the day, she said.
Then, on Wednesday, James said the suspect came back for her car, but the alarm went off. Authorities were apparently already in the area when that occurred, and the suspect was taken into custody.
Kaylee Montalbano, whose car was also recently set ablaze, said she was left shaken from the incident.
“I’m also a paramedic, so I come home at 2, 3 in the morning sometimes and I’m scared to walk through my parking garage because I don’t know what time he’s going to come,” she told KTLA.
Montalbano, a nursing student, said she had just finished paying off her modified truck when the arson occurred. She’s now trying to figure out how to get to school.
“My truck is a total loss,” she said.
Residents were calling for better safety in the apartment complexes, and in a statement, a spokesperson for the Camden Harbor View Apartments said they increased security as of Tuesday.