CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A man who was arrested last year, after explosives were found in his Chula Vista apartment following a fire that displaced about 30 residents, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of a destructive device in a public place.
David Wasson, 33, initially gave officers a fake name and claimed his shirt caught fire while he was cooking in his second-floor unit at the Seawind Apartments at 1067 Fourth Ave. the afternoon of Oct. 17, according to Chula Vista police.
Police said Wasson tossed the burning shirt onto some gasoline containers, then evacuated the apartment.
Neighbors saw a man later identified as Wasson running away from the building just before hearing explosions.
Firefighters evacuated the building — one of nine at the complex — and were able to confine the blaze to Wasson’s apartment, Chula Vista Deputy Fire Chief Harry Muns said.
Police officers found Wasson shortly afterward, suffering from burns. He was in possession of methamphetamine, heroin and ammunition at the time, and was also named in a no-bail arrest warrant, police said.
Wasson was taken to a hospital along with a neighbor who sustained smoke inhalation while attempting to extinguish the fire. Five people were evaluated at the scene for minor burns and respiratory complaints, Muns said.
Firefighters found “suspicious items” in the unit where the blaze erupted and summoned personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a county hazardous materials team and the sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit. Police said a search of the apartment turned up Molotov cocktails, ammunition, gasoline, an improvised explosive device and homemade zip guns.
Wasson will be sentenced to eight years in prison on Aug. 22.