Arson charge in Grove fire

Bicylist allegedly uses stolen gas to start rental home blaze

Kimberly Rubio

Assistant editor

Uvalde Police arrested 38-year-old Juan Ramon Garza on arson charges last Friday after a house fire on South Grove Street.

Garza’s bond was set at $2,500, but he remained at the Uvalde County Jail as of Wednesday afternoon.

Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were dispatched to 125 S. Grove St. just after 4 p.m. The station responded with three trucks and 18 firefighters.

According to the Uvalde Police Department, the house is a rental property leased to David Garza.

David Garza and two other people, along with a dog, were home when Juan Garza allegedly doused the structure with gasoline taken from the yard of a nearby residence and set fire to the structure.

According to the fire department, a neighbor alerted the occupants, who made it safely out of the house. Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department firefighters rescued the dog.

Smoke and water damage was severe, and UVFD chief Gene Ayala condemned the house.

According to police, Juan Garza allegedly set fire to the house after being involved in a physical disturbance with a home occupant earlier that morning.

Police say Juan and David are not related.

Garza, who resides at 533 Apolonio St., allegedly rode a bicycle to David Garza’s rental home. After the alleged physical altercation, police say he left the location and took the gasoline from a home in the 500 block of West Garden Street.

“He left the bike at the West Garden Street home and a witness saw him walk east bound with the gas container,” said Mariano Pargas, UPD lieutenant.

“He didn’t return and that is when the witness heard fire trucks responding to the fire.”

Police began searching for Juan Garza, said to be wearing a red shirt, and he was seen in the 500 block of Apolonio Street.

“He was ripping off his red shirt,” said Lt. Mariano Pargas.

The investigation is ongoing. Arson is a first-degree felony punishable by between five and 99 years in prison.

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