The Moore American

March 12, 2014

Man charged with arson

By Jessica Bruha
The Moore American

MOORE — An Oklahoma City man was charged Feb. 26 for second-degree arson after allegedly starting a fire at a Moore business in June.

Arturo Cortez, 37, fled from police June 30 after he and another man were spotted driving away from a burning commercial building at 2252 N. Broadway Ave., according to the affidavit filed with the charge.

When officers attempted to stop the vehicle, it continued to Northeast 27th Street before Cortez and the driver attempted to flee on foot.

Officers apprehended the driver, Saul Gonzalez, 29, but were unable to apprehend Cortez at the time.

Gonzalez also was charged Feb. 26 with driving without a driver’s license, failure to carry insurance or a security verification form and failure to stop at a stop sign.

Gonzalez told police he ran because he didn’t have a driver’s license or insurance on the vehicle. When police found five-gallon buckets of gasoline in the bed of the truck and a 250-count box of matches in the passenger side floorboard, they asked Gonzalez what he knew about the fire.

Gonzalez said he was driving Cortez’s vehicle home for him because Cortez was intoxicated. Cortez asked him to pull up to the parking lot of Home Creations, the business at Broadway Avenue, because he needed to urinate, the affidavit said.

The next thing Gonzalez knew, the building was covered in flames and Cortez jumped back in the vehicle, telling him to leave.

When police asked how he didn’t notice Cortez pouring a bucket of gasoline on the building or hear him bust the front window of the business out, Gonzalez said he heard the window bust and saw Cortez but didn’t know what was going on, the affidavit said.

When police asked Gonzalez why his clothes smelled like gasoline, he said it was because he was a mechanic and all of his clothes smell like that, the document said.

Cortez’s fingerprint and left palm print were located on two lids in the bed of the truck. One lid was on a bucket that contained gasoline and the other matched the bucket used to start the fire, the affidavit said.

The same type of bucket was found melted at the fire scene near the point of origin, records show.

Inside the vehicle were matches and toilet tissue, also similar to the items used in starting the fire, in addition to an ignitable liquid in the gasoline class, the affidavit said.