Witness reports Coronado Tower arson suspect used torch

Monday, April 8, 2013 - 7:05pm

The suspect in the Coronado Tower arson Saturday night used a torch, according to a witness in the El Paso Fire Dept.'s arrest affidavit.

Local 4 News obtained the documents Monday afternoon, where investigators say Kevin Rodriguez, 21, confessed in a video-recorded statement to an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent to setting the building on fire.

The building janitor told fire investigators that he was exiting the elevators on the second floor of the 11-story building Saturday night when he saw smoke.

"(He) stated that he walked towards the smoke and observed DEFENDANT with a torch lighting the toilet paper rolls located in the metal storage lockers in the janitorial room on fire," read the affidavit.

The janitor and another witness, according to the affidavit, saw Rodriguez running away from the building and held him down until police and arson investigators arrived.  Rodriguez was later charged with one count of arson and is being held on a $250,000 bond.

Investigators estimate damages to be $1,000,000.  No injuries were reported.  It is unknown when tenants will be allowed back inside the building because firefighters are trying to ventilate the building to bring the carbon monoxide levels down.

To read the full affidavit, download the file at the bottom of the page.

ORIGINAL STORY: Police took a man into custody for questioning Saturday night, less than two hours after a fire began inside the Coronado Tower at 6006 N. Mesa on El Paso's west side.

No injuries are reported in the fire, which began on the second floor of the eleven story office building at about 8 p.m.. Firefighters described an environment of zero visibility as they battled the fire on the second level and looked for anyone in possible trouble.

Firefighters evacuated the entire building and soon controlled the smoke and flames. Meanwhile, police essentially shut down the Mesa/Sunland Park area to local traffic as emergency trucks alternately arrived and left the emergecny scene.

The possible suspect was arrested after police received a phone tip that the fire may have been intentionally set.

 

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Kevin Rodriguez Complaint Affidavit.pdf621.67 KB
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