Arson suspected in National City restaurant blaze

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NATIONAL CITY, Calif. -- Arson was suspected in a fire that tore through a National City restaurant early today, just over two months after a man was fatally shot during a World Cup viewing party there.

The non-injury fire at the Rincon Del Mar at 314 Highland Ave. broke out around 12:30 a.m. and firefighters had it knocked down in about 15 minutes, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

National City police said the fire was being investigated as arson.

Fire investigators told Fox 5 that arson was suspected because glass from a broken window was found inside the restaurant, instead of being blown out, which is typical in accidental fires.

An estimate of the damage the fire caused was not immediately available.

On June 17, 36-year-old nursing assistant Josue Crook was shot outside the Rincon Del Mar and later died at a hospital.

The shooter opened fire on the victim during a fight that broke out amid a crowded watching party for a Mexico-Brazil World Cup match, according to National City police. The altercation spilled out into the street, after which shots rang out.

Daniel Arce Gonzalez, 35, was arrested last month in connection with the shooting and has pleaded not guilty to murder and assault charges. He faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

The five-year-old, family-owned restaurant was known for its seafood and friendly ambiance.

“Everyone knew about the place it would get really packed. Sometimes you would have to wait outside," said Alexis Robles, a National City resident.

The owner Carlos, spoke with Fox 5 News exclusively and said he plans to rebuild and reopen as soon as possible.
"Carlos is a great guy. His staff is amazing," said Rafael Morales, a former patron. "I say, keep your head up Carlos. The way I look at it, when one door closes, another one opens ... everything happens for a reason."

Investigators are now looking trying to gather video from a nearby surveillance camera for additional clues.

Anyone with information on the fire was asked to call National City police at 619-336-4411.

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