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Police looking for man that poured gasoline, started fire inside west Phoenix restaurant

The crime happened on May 7, but no leads have resulted in the suspect's arrest.

PHOENIX — A man was caught on surveillance camera starting a fire inside a west Phoenix restaurant that has operated peacefully for more than 26 years. 

On Saturday, May 7 around 5 a.m., the suspect knocked on the front door of Los Armandos restaurant, located near 59th Avenue and McDowell Road.

Since the lobby didn’t open until one hour later, Glitzya Vasquez, the business owner’s daughter, said the employees turned him away.

“He came up with this sob story that his wife was pregnant waiting at the bus stop and she needed some food, so then they finally let him in,” she said.

The man, who was carrying a rolling suitcase, went to the bathroom after he ordered food, but changed his mind, Glitzya said.

Phoenix police said the suspect had filled a gas can with gasoline and had it inside the case.

Credit: Silent Witness

“Whenever the workers weren’t paying attention, he poured gasoline all over the floor, and then he went outside to smoke a cigarette,” the business owner’s daughter said.

She said the man then threw a lit cigarette inside the lobby, but after missing the gasoline on the floor, he walked in, bent down, and takes something out of his pocket, possibly a lighter, and the lobby quickly went up in flames.

The fire caused damage to the floor, counter, and ceiling panels.

Glitzya rushed to the restaurant and found an unrecognizable scene.

“The restaurant that I’ve always known just looked completely different,” she said. “It definitely hurts. It feels like someone just punched you in the face and you just don’t know why.”

Los Armandos Restaurant is the second Latino-owned business targeted by arsonists this year in Phoenix.

On February 28, two men were caught on camera throwing three Molotov cocktails on the roof of the Bread and Honey House in east Phoenix.

“More than the physical damage, I think it’s the peace of mind that gets taken away,” said the owner Francisco Perez. “We’re now sleeping three to four hours a night, waking up to see the cameras every time we wake up because we’re afraid that they’re going to burn down our place.”

Neither of the people captured on camera carrying out the attacks has been arrested.

If you know anything about this crime, Phoenix police ask you to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. You can remain anonymous.

“I just really hope that someone can spot him, to bring him to justice,” Glitzya said.

VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: La policía busca al hombre que roció gasolina e inició un incendio dentro de un restaurante al oeste de Phoenix

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