By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A man allegedly set a Lompoc mental health facility on fire on Tuesday while people were inside.
Shortly before 12:45 p.m., the suspect was allegedly attempting to assault staff at a facility in the 1000 block of East Ocean Avenue. While officers were en route to the scene, they learned the suspect was also trying to set the building on fire, according to the Lompoc Police Department.
Officers located William Morales, 35, in the 100 block of N. Third Street. Morales was holding a large piece of wood, which he threw at the officers when they exited their patrol cars. The wooden stick hit a patrol vehicle.
Police ordered Morales to get on the ground. Morales refused and threw another piece of wood at the officers.
Morales then retreated into the building and slammed the door shut. Officers heard individuals yelling that the building was on fire and people were inside.
Officers forced entry into the building and ordered Morales to get on the ground. Police managed to take Morales into custody, though he remained combative.
With the flames growing, the occupants of the building evacuated. Officers used fire extinguishers to knock down the flames. Lompoc firefighters then arrived and fully extinguished the blaze.
Police interviewed staff at the scene and determined some individuals had barricaded themselves in a room to escape Morales’s violent behavior. But, Morales set the room in which they were hiding on fire.
Morales was taken to the emergency room in order to receive medical clearance. While at the emergency room, Morales kicked an officer in the head.
Eventually, Morales was medically cleared and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail. Authorities booked Morales in jail on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, arson of an inhabited dwelling, felony vandalism, felony resisting, criminal threats, resisting arrest and having both a felony and misdemeanor warrant.
Officials estimate the property damage resulting from the arson exceeds $10,000.