A police detective testified Michael Barringer, 26, admitted to all 10 arsons as well as two attempts to commit arson on late July 12 and on July 13 in the early morning hours.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Fred Maguire set a trial date for Nov. 21. Barringer, wearing jail clothes, pleaded not guilty to all charges at the end of the hearing.
“There is probable cause,” ruled Maguire. “There are a lot of counts here. I will hold you to answer for trial.”
The car most severely damaged was a 1979 MGB classic convertible that was owned by Scott Stavish, who posted on a GoFundMe.com page. The car’s interior was destroyed.
Detective Patrick Shadoan said Barringer placed trash and papers inside the car and set it on fire. Most of the fires were set inside trash or recyclable bins that were placed either on or beside vehicles in Ocean Beach.
Barringer stuffed paper in the muffler of a grey Mazda and set it on fire, said Barringer.
Video surveillance cameras recorded Barringer collecting “San Diego Reader” magazines from a 7-Eleven and scattering them around vegetation near a house, said Shadoan. Barringer was seen setting fire to the magazines, but the fire went out.
There was only one fire that had a motive, said Shadoan, and that was a bag of dog feces that was placed on someone’s porch and set on fire.
Shadoan said Barringer told him the resident in that house had refused to give him money. So Barringer found the bag and burned “a bag of poop” on the person’s porch, he said.
No motive could be determined in any of the other fires, according to witnesses.
Officer Matthew Deans said he arrested Barringer at 5:30 a.m., and noticed Barringer either began singing or rapping afterwards. Deans said Barringer did not ask why he was arrested.
“I noticed he had two lighters in his hands…with a third lighter in his pocket,” said Deans.
Deans said Barringer was “compliant with my commands” during the arrest.
Shadoan testified Barringer initially denied setting any fires and said he had been with a woman. Barringer said he found a bottle of alcohol in a dumpster as a present for her.
After the detective showed Barringer photos of the scene that included melted trash and recyclable bins on cars, Barringer admitted he had set all the fires. The interview took place at the headquarters of the Metro Arson Strike Team.
The first fire was set in an alley near Bacon Street and Cape May Avenue. Other fires were set on Newport Avenue, Voltaire Street, Muir Avenue, Spray Street, Long Branch Avenue, and Niagara Avenue.
MAST officers include San Diego Police, sheriff’s deputies, FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Shadoan said he worked with his brother, Fire Captain James Shadoan, on the case. The prosecutor was Deputy District Attorney Meghan Buckner.
Barringer remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility on $700,000 bail.