A Northern California man was arrested Friday after authorities say he launched firebomb attacks on police and two black neighbors.
Matthew Scott Jones, 39, was arrested at 1:40 a.m. on suspicion of attempted murder, committing a hate crime, arson and possessing destructive devices with the intent to injure people and commit murder, Fairfield police Sgt. Matt Bloesch said. Police think Jones was acting alone and had used small propane tanks in the attacks, he said.
“It’s kind of wild,” Bloesch said.
The chaotic scene unfolded Thursday night in Fairfield, a Solano County city east of Vallejo.
The first attack occurred about 10 p.m. Thursday when a device was thrown into the window of an apartment, police said. Firefighters doused the flames as police evacuated neighboring apartments and the bomb squad examined device.
Two people inside the apartment were not injured. Bloesch said Jones targeted the victims because they are black and that he had directed racial slurs at them during the past month.
An hour later, Bloesch said, police received a report of a car fire that had erupted several blocks of away. The fire, he said, was intentionally set.
A couple of hours later, an explosion occurred in front of the Fairfield Police Department lobby, Bloesch said. Surveillance video footage showed “the suspect committing the act in front of the Police Department,” police said.
Officers identified Jones as the suspect and stopped him while he was driving near the scene of the first attack, police said.
Hours after Jones was arrested, authorities discovered another device in the yard of a chemical company on Friday afternoon, Bloesch said. Two propane tanks had been taped together and left in the yard.
Police think Jones set the device in the yard, he said. Authorities are concerned there could be more devices.
“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” Bloesch said.
He urged residents to report any suspicious devices to authorities.
“The safety of the public is our No. 1 concern,” Bloesch said.
According to Bloesch, Jones had been acting erratically for the past month. Detectives were working to determine a motive for the attacks.
The FBI is assisting the Police Department in the investigation.