Las Cruces fire investigators have arrested the man believed to be responsible for setting several fires during an eight-hour period that damaged a city playground and destroyed a pickup parked at a local business.
Samuel Cabrales-Nevarez, 50, is charged with two fourth-degree felony counts of arson, and misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and improper handling of a fire.
Starting about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29, and continuing to approximately 7 a.m. on Monday, May 30, Las Cruces firefighters responded to multiple fires along Valley Drive, Avenida de Mesilla and west Picacho Avenue. In all, as many as 10 fires were reported in less than an eight-hour period.
One fire destroyed a pickup that was parked at the Trader Man Pawn Shop on Avenida de Mesilla. Another fire damaged playground equipment at Lions Park on Picacho Avenue. Yet another fire was reported in a trash receptacle at the Tractor Supply store and numerous brush fires were reported at multiple locations.
Several witnesses described the suspect as a man who was carrying a stick. Las Cruces police located and detained the man, later identified as Cabrales-Nevarez, at the scene of one of the fires near the intersection of Picacho Avenue and 17th Street. Cabrales-Nevarez was arrested after being questioned by investigators.
Cabrales-Nevarez was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center on Monday. He was granted bond and released from custody on Tuesday.