Man gets 7 years for politically motivated arson crimes

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SAN DIEGO -- A City Heights man who tried to set an occupied La Jolla home on fire, then crashed a car into a Kearny Mesa defense contracting facility that moments later became engulfed in flames, was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in federal prison.

Daniel Hector Mackinnon, 37, pleaded guilty in June to the same-day arson crimes that federal prosecutors say were politically motivated.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mackinnon "targeted the victims based on the nature of the business and/or their professional/political ties," but did not elaborate on what issues Mackinnon had with his targets.

U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes described Mackinnon's conduct as "cold blooded and cowardly" and expressed concern that he is a danger to the community.

"In light of what you did, I think every day is warranted," Hayes told the defendant, referring to the length of the sentence.

In the early morning hours of April 24, Mackinnon tried to set fire to the home of a "prominent San Diego real estate developer," where two adults and three children were asleep inside, according to federal prosecutors.

Mackinnon poured an accelerant on the home's door and ignited it, damaging the door, but no injuries were reported. His DNA was found on the bottle cap of a water bottle near the scene, prosecutors said.

Later that morning, Mackinnon crashed his Toyota Prius into the Raytheon Integrated Defense building at 8650 Balboa Ave. He then got out and opened the back hatch of the vehicle. Moments later, "a fireball shot out from" the car, according to court papers.

The Prius became engulfed by flames as the driver ran off. It took firefighters about 20 minutes to subdue the blaze, which gutted the car but caused only minor damage to the building, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

Inside the charred vehicle, investigators found remnants of a melted fuel container, a bottle emanating a strong odor of gas, towels and two empty gun cartridges. The car, which was missing its gas cap, bore two different stolen California license plates, but was registered to Mackinnon, according to federal prosecutors.

About nine hours after the fire was extinguished, Mackinnon was arrested while entering the United States from Mexico at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry behind the wheel of a Buick sedan that also had stolen license plates on it, according to the FBI.

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