The Norman Transcript

February 27, 2014

Man charged with June arson

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — An Oklahoma City man was charged Wednesday 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 Wednesday 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.

Apparently, 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 if 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 was 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 found at the fire scene melted near the point of origin, records show.

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

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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