DA won’t charge teen accused of starting fires

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SAN DIEGO — No charges will be filed against a 19-year-old man who was arrested Thursday night on suspicion of starting small fires in Escondido, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Isaiah Silva of Escondido was arrested at about 7:30 p.m. on May 15 near the Westfield North County Mall after a witness reported spotting him set a fire, according to Escondido police.

But late Tuesday night, Silva was released from the Vista Jail.

The Escondido Police Department had taken the unusual step of sending media Silva’s mug shot. They also arrested his 17-year-old companion, whose identity was not released because of his age.

“After a thorough review of this case, the District Attorney’s Office is declining to file criminal charges against Silva because there is not sufficient evidence to suggest he started a fire,” District Attorney spokesman Steve Walker wrote in news release.

Walker said state law prevented the office from releasing any information on the juvenile suspect.

Meantime, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials announced the new Joint Arson Task Force Information Exchange.

“The joint task force then collates the information into one data base that we can see if there’s a common thread between any of them,” said Chet Burtell, task force leader.

Burtell said at least 15 agencies from federal, state and local agencies were part of the task force.  He said so far, 30 to 40 tips have come into Crimestoppers regarding the wildfires.

“We’ve also had some other tips come in through each agency as well,” said Burtell.

The team will now filter through those tips and any other evidence found in the field.  The fires charred more than 22,000 acres and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes, but Burtell said even with the best intelligence, a cause may not be found.

“That’s just because we can rule out certain things, but we can’t positively identify what started the fire.   Unfortunately, sometimes it does go undetermined,” said Burtell.

Anyone with information about crimes around San Diego County should contact CrimeStoppers at 888-850-8477. Callers can remain anonymous.


  • Ann Metzger

    Maybe they should have let them burn Kit Carson Park..UNBELIEVEABLE !!! I have NO faith in out system anymore!!

  • Steve

    We should be treating him like mexico is treating our marine, GUILTY until proven innocent. Shackled to a bed for 35 days. DA doesn't want to break up the family by sending him to jail.

    • bruce

      Mexico, and much of Europe, is under the Napoleanic Code and that's their system. What don't you understand about the term "insufficient evidence" ?

  • SAS

    I love the comments about "guilty until proven innocent" and we should lock him up even though there is no proof. Would you still feel the same way if that was your son? Or your brother? or YOU? Do you think they came to this conclusion without looking at every angle? I think 1. if this kid is innocent, they should have NEVER released his name and photo. Just because of people like Steve there. 2. if he is guilty, he just dodged a huge bullet and I hope he learned a valuable lesson….

    • S. Shea

      I agree with you SAS. I know a few kids that know him
      and truly believe he isnt the type of kid to do what he was already being accused of !
      Ann I agree with your comment about "having no faith in our system". His picture should NOT have been plastered everywhere along with the word ACCUSED. We had FAR more going on at the time they claim he was starting fires in Escondido. He was on a bicycle for God's sake. Our Mission should of been focused on the arsonist (IF) that was destroying peoples lives and putting our fire fighters lives on the line. I hope the best for you Isaiah. PLEASE take this as a lesson in life. Kudos to the DA for doing his job !

  • My2Cents

    Keep in mind the investigation does not end just because the kid is released. If sufficient evidence is later found and the kid is connected, he can be rearrested and charged at that time.

  • Paul

    He is innocent. The "eyewitness" was unreliable. It's sad that he's been convicted in the public by having his name and face put on the news. Witnesses make mistakes.

  • dailydebacle

    One way or another, we haven't heard the end of this. If he really is innocent, you can bet the family will sue somebody. If he did it, hopefully additional evidence will be found to try him.

  • thelegendhaze

    He was arrested the 15th a Thursday and released late Tuesday night??? That's 2 Hours from now?

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