Crime

Police arrest suspected State College arsonist

Jorge Luis Natal-Sanchez, of Lewistown, allegedly set multiple fires in State College and was charged with arson on Wednesday.
Jorge Luis Natal-Sanchez, of Lewistown, allegedly set multiple fires in State College and was charged with arson on Wednesday. Centre Daily Times, file

A man who allegedly set multiple fires at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday has been arrested by State College police.

Jorge Luis Natal-Sanchez, 32, set four dumpster fires on East Calder Way in downtown State College, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Alpha Fire Company Assistant Chief Rusty Scheiner said the fires were near buildings and one person had to evacuate their apartment due to smoke.

A witness gave dispatch the alleged arsonist’s description — a man wearing blue jeans, a white shirt and a white hat. State College and Penn State police officers approached a man fitting the witness’ account. The man was later identified as Natal-Sanchez.

Police asked to search Natal-Sanchez’s pockets, and he gave officers permission, according to the affidavit. He had 14 cigarette lighters, four micro USB charging cords in retail packaging and five USB cigarette lighter adapters in his possession. The items were later confirmed to have been stolen from the downtown Minit Mart.

Police interviewed the witness, who identified Natal-Sanchez as the person who was leaning on one of the dumpsters less than a minute before it was on fire, the affidavit said. Officers also interviewed Natal-Sanchez’s girlfriend, who said he was the only person who stole items from the Minit Mart and set fire to the dumpsters.

Alpha Fire Company put out the fires.

“It’s pretty straight-forward,” Scheiner said. “The fires appeared to be intentional.”

Natal-Sanchez, of Lewistown, faces two felony counts of arson endangering property-reckless endangerment of inhabited buildings, two felony counts of reckless burning or exploding near uninhibited places, one felony count of reckless burning or exploding near property that exceeds $5,000 and one misdemeanor count of retail theft.

Natal-Sanchez was unable to post $100,000 bail set by Magisterial Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker.

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