CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - A man is in jail on suspicion of arson charges after a fire ripped through a stable and killed two dozen horses, Clayton County officials said Wednesday.
Jonathan Espinoza-Vasquez, 23, is accused of intentionally setting fire on April 4 to a horse barn on Noah's Ark Road in Jonesboro in an act of domestic retaliation, killing 24 horses and injuring one more, authorities said.
Espinoza-Vasquez told police that he didn't set the barn on fire, but investigators said his cellphone records proved he did.here is the embed code:
Police said there were photos on Espinoza-Vasquez’s cellphone tagged with GPS locations less than a mile from where the fire took place on the night of the incident.
Investigators also said the owners of the horses have a daughter who has a child with Espinoza-Vasquez.
Authorities said someone in the horse owner's family assaulted a relative of Espinoza-Vasquez’s and that Espinoza-Vasquez retaliated by killing the horses. Officials said he might have had help.
“We believe there were some other members with him at the time,” Clayton County fire Chief David Vazquez said. “It’s an ongoing investigation, and those members we’re going to aggressively investigate and we’re going to bring them to justice as well.”
Neighbors said the fire was very large.
“We looked across the street, and it was a big blaze, huge blaze,” neighbor Karla Rosemond said.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture requires that stables have a readily accessible fire extinguisher, but there are no requirements for sprinklers or smoke detectors.