On November 22nd, 2016 at 10:25 AM, Atwater Police Dispatch was notified that a city employee was giving foot chase after an individual was witnessed attempting to light part of the City Hall building on fire. Officer Rivera was dispatched to City Hall to investigate and learned that Atwater City employee Chris Carrera, a part-time janitor for the city, was chasing a subject who poured gasoline on an outer portion of the City Hall building and ignited it with a lighter. After making sure the fire was extinguished, Officer Rivera began checking eastbound on Bellevue Road where the two were last seen running. Officer Rivera located both the suspect (identified later as Guadalupe Hernandez Ramirez, 45 years) and Carrera engaged in a struggle in the 700 block of East Bellevue Road near Osborn Park. Officer Rivera, with the assistance of Carrera, was able to subdue Hernandez Ramirez and he was taken into custody.
Officer Rivera noted that Hernandez Ramirez’ sweatshirt was saturated with gasoline and he also located a lighter in his pants pocket. He was transported back to the police station where he was processed and he was later booked into the Merced County Main Jail on the charge of Arson and Vandalism as well as violating terms of his probation. Chief of Police Samuel Joseph wished to express his sincere thanks to Mr. Carrera who both extinguished the fire with a fire extinguisher and also gave chase allowing the suspect to be apprehended by police. Though we never encourage anyone to put themselves in harm’s way, we are thankful to Mr. Carrera for going above and beyond his duties which most likely prevented severe damage to the City Hall building and also prevented the suspect from doing damage or harm to anyone else.