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Police Tie Shop Fire to Anger Over Poster

March 17, 2000|MIKE McCARTHY

Police say a 20-year-old Simi Valley man enraged by a poster of a Pokemon character broke into a business and started a blaze that caused $35,000 in damage.

Vincente Ramirez Villagomez was arrested early Wednesday outside Sew What Fabrics & Notions on Los Angeles Avenue on suspicion of arson, Simi Valley Police Sgt. Bob Gardner said. He was taken to a holding cell at the east county sheriff's station, where he was being held on $50,000 bail.

Officers were on patrol when they spotted the fire about 1:50 a.m., Gardner said, adding that when police and firefighters arrived, they found Villagomez standing nearby watching the flames.

Authorities allege that Villagomez broke a window and set the fire after seeing a poster of Pikachu, a spunky yellow cartoon character, hanging from a wall.

"He was upset about the Pokemon character," Gardner said.

Firefighters contained the blaze within 10 minutes, he said.

Since the fire, the fabric business has been closed and the broken window covered with plywood.

Fire officials estimate damage at about $5,000 to the structure and $30,000 to merchandise.

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