Teens trash, burn home while owners away | March 28, 2014 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - March 28, 2014

Teens trash, burn home while owners away

14 MV youths arrested after 'party house' is torched

by Andrea Gemmet

Police said Tuesday that 14 people have been arrested in connection with a fire that burned a house in the 1700 block of Fordham Way in the early hours of March 16. Investigators say a series of drug- and alcohol-fueled illicit parties at an empty house went awry, leaving the home seriously damaged when a fire started by three juveniles burned out of control.

While the residents were away on vacation, the house was also burglarized, and an Audi A4 stolen, said Sgt. Saul Jaeger, spokesman for the Mountain View Police Department. The car appears to have been stolen on March 14 and was recovered in San Francisco, he said.

Jaeger said he expects more arrests to be made in the coming days.

The parties were attended by students from local high schools and Foothill college. Twelve juveniles and two 18-year-olds have been arrested in connection with the case, said Jaeger.

Brandon Pak and Gilbert Gomes, both from Mountain View, were arrested this week on charges of burglary and child endangerment, with Pak facing an additional charge of providing marijuana to juveniles.

The juveniles, whose names and ages were withheld by police, face charges ranging from arson, burglary and auto theft to drug possession and drug sales, Jaeger said. Most of the students attend Mountain View High School, with a few from Alta Vista High School and Foothill College, he said.

One of the teens knew the family was gone on vacation, broke in the house and had a party the weekend of March 7, Jaeger said. More parties followed.

"It was your typical house party gone bad," he said.

According to detectives, the parties featured heavy alcohol and drug use.

"It's super lucky that nothing worse happened, that nobody died because of a huge fire like this," Jaeger said.

Just before 2:20 a.m. on March 16, firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at the home, according to Jaeger. The fire was extinguished by about 3:30 a.m. and there were no reported injuries and no other homes were damaged by the blaze. It became an arson investigation later that day, and starting on March 17, multiple search warrants were served on homes in Mountain View and Los Altos, said Jaeger.

Jaeger said he didn't have a dollar amount for the estimated damage to the house. "It looked like a total loss. When you can see through the house to the other side ..." he said. The Santa Clara County Fire Investigation Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) assisted Mountain View police in the investigation.

The police department has been working closely with Mountain View-Los Altos School District officials on the case, Jaeger said. The fire highlights the police department's "See something, say something" campaign encouraging public involvement, he said.

"The ironic thing is that the police did not receive a single call with a noise complaint, or complaining of a loud party," said Jaeger. "It's a little disconcerting."

Police are asking for the public's help in gathering information about the party. Anyone with a tip may call 650-903-6395. Anonymous tips may also be sent via text to 274637 — include 'mvtips' in the body of the message.

Email Andrea Gemmet at editor@mv-voice.com


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