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A homeless man who, according to investigators, could have been involved in several fires in the city center and the Bosque neighborhood has been accused of setting fire to three dumpsters and a vacant storefront in less than 15 minutes earlier this month along Central Avenue near the river.
John Ferguson, 53, is charged with arson over $ 20,000 in connection with the September 9 incident. He was held in the Metropolitan Detention Center early on Saturday. We don’t know if he has a lawyer.
Prosecutors have filed a motion to detain Ferguson until trial, calling his behavior “extremely dangerous.”
“These fires could easily have spread and injure or kill someone,” the motion said. “In addition, these fires also endanger the firefighters (Albuquerque Fire Rescue).
AFR investigators said in court files they knew Ferguson “extremely” and believed he may have been involved in several fires in the city center and along the bosque in recent months. .
Ferguson was arrested by Albuquerque police, according to court records, near a grove fire on September 14, but was released due to “lack of probable cause.”
Ferguson’s criminal history dates back to 2012 and court records hint at years spent battling homelessness, drug use and possible mental health issues. Most of the cases against him were dismissed for a variety of reasons, including the prosecutor’s failure to meet the deadline, the absence of an officer and the lack of testimony.
According to a criminal complaint filed with the Metropolitan Court:
An AFR investigator was tasked with finding out who started several fires on September 9 along Central near the river. Three fires were started in dumpsters around the Old Town before a fourth fire started in the front awning of the old Laurel Cafe in Central and 15th.
The fire caused severe damage – estimated at $ 35,000 – to the door, front window and structure of the building before it was extinguished by firefighters. Investigators found surveillance footage which showed Ferguson rode his bike from dumpster to dumpster, before stopping at the entrance to the Laurel Cafe.
Smoke and flames appeared shortly after Ferguson left each scene. Investigators noted that Ferguson had been seen “watching the firefighters and cycling” near several fires started in dumpsters and in the grove in recent months.
“The person or persons responsible have never been caught in the act or captured under surveillance”, specifies the complaint.
Ferguson’s criminal history includes arrests for burglary, criminal property damage, theft and commercial burglary.
Ferguson was first arrested in 2013 for allegedly stealing copper from the Rancho De Corrales Event Center. At the time, he listed his address as a modest home in Rio Rancho.
In the years that followed, Ferguson filed for divorce – claiming he was homeless and his wife was missing with their 15-year-old daughter – and was sentenced to one year probation for attempted compressor theft. air.
Ferguson’s probation was revoked because he had failed to maintain contact with his probation officer and allegedly used methamphetamine. In 2019, Ferguson was charged with smashing the window of a prisoner transport van with a stone. He told the police that he was trying to get their attention and that he was upset because “unknown groups” were performing “strange tests” on him.
In 2020, Ferguson was charged with six counts of property damage after allegedly seizing the vehicles of six employees of the KRQE news station. The vandalism occurred outside the station and was observed by KRQE staff and filmed by surveillance cameras.
Prosecutors ultimately dismissed the case.