Person of interest identified in spate of suspicious Golden Gate Park fires

Arson investigators have identified a person of interest in a recent series of six suspicious fires that broke out in Golden Gate Park, according to police.

Anthony Jon Wengerd, 26, has been connected with the string of fires reported within a 24-hour period Nov. 10 near the polo field and angling pond, according to Sgt. Michael Andraychak, a police spokesperson.

The San Francisco Fire Department said the blazes ranged in size from 200 square feet to an acre. Wengerd has not been charged with arson, but Police Chief Bill Scott said the “arsons actually stopped” after his arrest.

“There was really nobody hurt or no serious injuries,” Scott said Dec. 5 at the Police Commission. “But we know how dangerous it can be for people to set fire to structures, particularly in a place where we have people sometimes living in the structures unbenounced to the public. We are taking that seriously.”

SEE RELATED: SF fire officials investigate six overnight fires in Golden Gate Park as “suspicious”

Recreation and Park Department rangers detained Wengerd four days after the fires at the Stow Lake Boathouse, according to Andraychak. He was booked at County Jail on suspicion of violating a court order and an arrest warrant for aggravated assault, battery and elder abuse.

A judge ordered him to stay away from the boathouse after he allegedly attacked a 72-year-old gardener with a tree branch on Nov. 10.

Wengerd has since been ordered to stay at least 150 yards away from Golden Gate Park, according to Andraychak.

He was released from County Jail after his November arrest on probation for elder abuse but was re-booked at County Jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery on Dec. 3.

Prosecutors have since charged Wengerd with robbery and he is currently in County Jail.

Andraychak said the arson cases remain under investigation.

“At this point investigators don’t feel that they have probable cause to make an arrest,” Andraychak said.

Anthony Jon Wengerd (Courtesy SFPD)
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