Police: Suspect arrested in Ocean Beach arson spree


A 26-year-old man was behind bars Friday afternoon on suspicion of setting a dozen fires overnight on streets and in alleys around Ocean Beach.

Michael Alexander Barringer, 26, was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of arson in the series of blazes that destroyed at least six vehicles, several large trash cans, a fence and other items, said San Diego police Sgt. Rick Pechin of the Metro Arson Strike Team.

Investigators are looking to see if the new fires might have links to a string of arsons in Ocean Beach alleys several months ago.

Jail records showed Barringer was booked into the San Diego Central Jail just after 2 p.m. No information was immediately available about the charges he might face, though Pechin said Barringer was “arrested for the arsons in all twelve cases.”

Firefighters responded to reports of the first fire around 11 p.m. Thursday, according to police and fire officials. In total, the blazes caused roughly $23,000 in damage, and no injuries were reported.

The fires were reported on or in the alleys of Cape May Avenue, Santa Monica Avenue, Niagara Avenue, Newport Avenue, Spray Street, Long Branch Avenue, Muir Avenue and Voltaire Street.

Arson investigators from the Metro Arson Strike team were deployed to investigate the blazes, and during the investigation they detained Barringer near the beach in the alley of Spray Street near Brighton Avenue, Pechin said.

“Evidence linking Barringer to the arsons was recovered and he was subsequently arrested for the arsons in all twelve cases,” Pechin said in a statement.

The string of overnight fires were not the first to plague Ocean Beach in recent months. Between December 2017 and January of this year, roughly 10 small fires were set on streets and in alleys in Ocean Beach. At a mid-January town hall hosted by the Ocean Beach Town Council, fire and police offficials said arson was the suspected cause of those blazes.

Pechin told the Union-Tribune that investigators are looking into whether the overnight blazes Thursday and Friday were linked in any way to the string of arson cases from December and January.

“However, at this time we have no evidence to suggest they are related,” Pechin wrote in an email. “It appears that this was just a random arson spree from last night and not connected to any other fires in that area that we are aware of.”

All of the arson-suspected fires in Ocean Beach remain under investigation, the sergeant said. Anyone with information about any of the blazes was urged to contact the Metro Arson Strike at (619) 236-6815 or San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.


3 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect Barringer’s arrest.

This article was originally published at 1:10 p.m.


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