Homeless man charged in LA fire deaths: Illegally in US and had previous arrests

Scene from the fire/Photo from TownHall

Scene from the fire/Photo from TownHall

Via AP: A homeless man charged with setting a fire that killed five people at a vacant Los Angeles building was in the country illegally, and was arrested for drug possession days before the blaze.

Johnny Sanchez, 21, remains jailed without bail on five counts of murder. Prosecutors haven’t decided whether to seek the death penalty.

They allege Sanchez set the fire Monday after having a dispute with other people squatting at a former acupuncture clinic in the Westlake area near downtown. Three men and two women died in the fire, which collapsed the roof of the two-story building and left the bodies buried in debris.

Sanchez, a Honduran citizen, was arrested in 2012 for illegally entering California, but he was released a week later after agents determined he had no criminal history or previous immigration violations, the Los Angeles Times reported.

He was ordered to report regularly to immigration authorities, but for unknown reasons deportation proceedings never began, Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Times.


Sanchez stopped reporting in 2014, but no search was made for him, and no request was made for law enforcement agencies to hold him. Such requests generally only happen when the person has a criminal history or has repeatedly tried to enter the country illegally, Kice said.

Sanchez was arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse in January and for drug possession in May and on June 8, but he was quickly released.

County coroner’s officials have identified two of the fire victims as Jerry Dean Clemons, 59, and Mary Ann Davis, 44, both of Iowa. They were from the town of Ottumwa and arrived in Los Angeles days before the fire to join Davis’ son, the Times reported, citing a relative.

Another victim was known to homeless people in the area as “Jokerface” because of his broad smile. “Jokerface was a very good-hearted person, very outgoing and very loud,” Sahara McFadden, 30, told the newspaper. She said she sometimes took care of his pit bull, Gucci, and had used drugs with Jokerface in the building days before the fire.

Neighbors said the vacant building had become a hangout for homeless people and drug users in the past two or three months. Trespassers cut their way through a metal garage door off an alleyway.

Two or three small fires also were reported in the alleyway in recent weeks.


4 responses to “Homeless man charged in LA fire deaths: Illegally in US and had previous arrests

  1. Ross Blankert

    Chaulk up another five deaths to the open border crowd. Democrats see illegal aliens as potential voters because most are uneducated and unable to read or write in English. Just vote Democrat and they are happy with you on welfare and food stamps and public housing and your kids can learn some English in school.


  2. When we see these murders added to the list of American citizens who have been slaughtered by illegal immigrants . . . most of us are sickened to our very core. When is enough . . . truly enough! Why do our officials pick and choose who they deem sufficiently “bad enough” to deport? Is it not sufficient that these individuals broke our nation’s laws regarding entering our country without permission? Perhaps, we need to start deporting, or jailing the officials who do not adhere to the laws that are already on the books . It would seem that they are conspirators in these various crimes, when they take no action to deport when illegals come to their attention. I would also say sanctuary cities, all churches who give sanctuary to illegals, and any relief agencies who offer sanctuary to illegals as also being conspirators to the crime of running our boarders. Oh! Yes, we see that those who are so compassionate as to offer aid to illegals, continue in their desires to succor the poor, the weary, the down trodden even though others loose members of their families to the criminal ways of these same people. If there really is such a thing as “Karma” then it stands to reason that family members of these same compassionate people should fall prey to illegals.


  3. Shouldn’t the Cops who kept releasing him,the authorities who FAILED to deport him and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement be charged with being complicit in this? They did all they could to allow him to stay,and multiple arrests doesn’t show him to be a habitual criminal-that spells COMPLICITY to me. Maybe if the limp-wristed people responsible for allowing him to flaunt the law until people DIED had to be responsible for the murders they helped causing,they’d take their RESPONSIBILITY a little more seriously..


    • truckjunkie . . . there are a number of words that cover this behavior: Complicity, Conspiracy, Facilitating . . . the words go on and on. It will not stop until those who are guilty of aiding those who are here illegally are held responsible for their actions.


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