A Los Angeles man pleaded not guilty Monday to allegedly setting fire to his mother-in-law’s SUV because her daughter left him, police said.
Jonathan Chanto, 34, faces two counts of arson to inhabited structure and personal property and two counts of making threats, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
His mother-in-law told police that just days before the arson, Chanto allegedly threatened to burn down her home.
Chanto was arrested Thursday when police tracked him to a home in the Valley hours after the fire, according to Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
His mother-in-law’s Chevrolet Blazer was parked in the driveway of an apartment building in the 400 block of Western Avenue, where, at about 2:34 a.m., a witness reported hearing a pop before the fire started, police said.
Flames engulfed the SUV and damaged a second-floor apartment window, a wall in the carport, a telephone pole and nearby bushes.
Fire investigators believe the blaze was started in the passenger’s front compartment, police said.
Chanto is married to the woman’s daughter, who took their two children and moved out of their home due to a history of alleged domestic violence, according to police.
She moved in with her mother, but Chanto allegedly began harassing them by throwing rocks at the apartment window, banging on the front door and letting the air out of their tires.
Soon after, his wife and children moved to another city in an attempt to flee, police said.
But Lorenz said Chanto continued to send threatening messages, and allegedly threatened to kill his mother-in-law and others who were close to her, Lorenz added.
Los Angeles County Superior Court officials on Monday also issued a restraining order against Chanto.
He remained in custody in lieu of $475,000 bail and was scheduled to appear in court July 9.
-- Veronica Rocha, firstname.lastname@example.org