“Shhhh! Don’t say anything!”
Raul Andres Diaz, 23, had a handful of long grasses lit like a torch, and he was setting fire to tall grass along a street corner in Vista, according to deputies who testified on February 13. The alleged torching of dry grass happened about 9:45 p.m. the night of November 1, 2018.
Deputies said a passerby pulled over to ask Diaz what he was doing, at the corner of West Vista Way and Santa Clara Drive, but the alleged arsonist responded by saying, “Shhhh! Don’t say anything!” When the witness persisted questioning him, Diaz soon ran away, the witness told deputy Marcos Andrade, later.
Diaz ditched two long, black machetes.
That night, the alarmed witness flagged down a private security man, who helped pursue the alleged fire-starter. The security man sent out running updates to local deputies, who were dispatching from their headquarters about a mile away. Meanwhile, the fire department responded to the flames which were spreading towards nearby residences and a church. The fire was extinguished before it reached any buildings.
Within minutes, deputies found a suspect near the movie theater in downtown Vista, they took two lighters from his pockets. Deputy Thomas Hendricks said he brought the original eye-witness to where Diaz was detained, and the witness declared, “It’s definitely him!”
At that time, Diaz was out on probation for carrying a concealed knife.
On January 9, 2019, two months after the alleged arson, deputies found that Diaz had two fixed-blade knives hidden on his person. These 11-inch knives had masking tape wrapped around their handles and were concealed in his pockets, according to deputies.
Three days later, on January 12, 2019, a little after 1 a.m. deputies went to 221 Smilax Road in Vista. A private security guard at that gated community had detained Raul Diaz as a suspected car burglar. Residents reported a suspicious man was peeking around vehicles. Deputies said Diaz was found with two screw drivers in his pockets, one longer and one shorter, these had sharpened ends and the handles were wrapped in electrical tape. Diaz also had a glass meth pipe with him, according to deputies.
One month after that incident, on February 14, 2019, deputies responded to a report of attempted burglary at 164 Terracina Way in Vista. When a deputy approached a suspect who matched the description, Diaz allegedly said, “Why are you harassing me?” and then he took off running. Diaz ditched two long, black machetes he had hidden under his jacket, according to one deputy, by tossing the big blades over a construction fence as he ran. During that foot pursuit, one deputy was struck by a car while crossing a street.
Raul Andres Diaz, 23, pleads not-guilty and is currently held in lieu of $280,000 bail. He is described in jail records as an Hispanic male, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 122 pounds.