SAN DIEGO — A wannabe cop who lived a secret life as a firebug has been sentenced to 10 years for a string of late night arson fires at a southern California church and middle school.
Tyler Carender, 22, admitted sparking three separate fires over 21 days at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Oak Crest Middle School in Encinitas in 2016.
A student of criminal justice at Palomar College in San Marcos, Carender was caught after he admitted to a classmate — who was also studying to be a cop — that he was behind the arson fires.
The first blaze broke out on Oct. 22, 0216 at the Friendship House” Counseling and Youth Center building at the Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Firefighters were able to contain the fire, which still caused approximately $200,000 in damage, federal prosecutors said.
A week later, he also set fire to the administrative building at the Oak Street Middle School next to his house, by breaking in and using gasoline to set fire to books and files within the building.
Making matters worse, firefighters were forced to retreat from the building after the roof appeared like it might collapse. In all, prosecutors say the fire destroyed student records and caused $1.5 million in damages.
Two weeks later, Carender went back to St. Andrew’s and threw a Molotov cocktail into the office of the church’s preschool, causing $25,000 in damages.
The San Diego sheriff’s office were led at first to Carender after detectives received an anonymous tip. Later, Carender confided in a classmate about committing the three arsons. The classmate ultimately recorded Carender discussing his involvement and contacted authorities.
Following his arrest, Carender initially denied any involvement, but later admitted he had started the fires, cops say.
Carender was arrested in July 2017 at his home and pleaded guilty on March 9, 2018 to all three charges.