Press Release: Berkeley Arson Suspect Arrested

From the Berkeley Police Department
Friday July 23, 2010 - 04:10:00 PM

City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Property Crimes detectives have arrested a man responsible for a suspicious fire in front of Sam’s Market, 2312 Telegraph Avenue. This fire was one of nine (9) fires that had been deliberately set on city property in the South Campus area since Friday, July 16th. Detectives found Travis Eugene Churchill, 25 of Berkeley in People’s Park on July 20, 2010 and took him into custody without incident.  

Surveillance video of the suspect setting a City of Berkeley recycling bin on fire in front of the business and keen work by BPD patrol officers soon after the fire proved instrumental in identifying Churchill. The fire was reported by a passerby at approximately 3:50 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, July 20th. Patrol officers who were working as part of a special project focused on the series detained Churchill nearby and took photographs as part of their investigative efforts.  

Detectives were able to compare the photographs taken by the officers with the surveillance tape. Churchill was wearing the same clothing as the suspect in the surveillance tape.  

Detectives booked Churchill into the City of Berkeley Jail. He is being held on $50,000 bail. On Thursday, July 22nd, the Alameda County District Attorney charged Churchill with one count of 451(d) PC – Arson/Structure. The investigation of the remaining suspicious fires continues, but BPD detectives state that there appears to be a definitive link between the Sam’s Market arson case and the others in the series. Since Churchill’s arrest there have been no suspicious fires in the City of Berkeley with the same or similar elements as this series.