Man accused of trying to torch defense contractor building with ‘fireball’

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SAN DIEGO — Federal investigators are releasing more information about the man accused of purposely crashing into a U.S. defense contractor building in Kearny Mesa and trying to torch the place with a “fireball.”

The City Heights man, 36-year-old Daniel Hector Mackinnon, was charged in federal court Thursday with the alleged attack. He faces two counts of arson in connection with the explosive blaze that erupted early Wednesday at Raytheon Integrated Defense in the 8600 block of Balboa Avenue.

Mackinnon allegedly crashed his Toyota Prius into a building at the complex about 2:15 a.m., then got out and opened the back hatch of the vehicle, according to a federal complaint. Moments later, “a fireball shot from” the car, the document states.

The Prius became engulfed by flames as the driver ran off, according to a statement from the FBI.

It took firefighters about 20 minutes to subdue the blaze, which gutted the car but caused only minor damage to the building, officials said. No injuries were reported.

Inside the charred vehicle, according to the complaint, 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, the court document asserts.

“Due to the nature” of the incident, the San Diego Police Department called in the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to assist in gathering and evaluating evidence in the case, SDPD public-affairs Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said.

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

Authorities have disclosed no suspected motive for the alleged act of arson.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for May 9 in federal court.

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