RIVERSIDE, Calif., — Authorities say a transient has been arrested in connection with an intentionally set arson fire at a homeless encampment that left a sleeping victim with significant burns to his lower extremities early Thursday morning, April 15.
Captured several days after the fire, 42-year-old Joseph Wayne Breyer, remains in custody on multiple felony charges with his bail set at $1 million.
LEADING THE RCNS HEADLINES:
City of Riverside police and fire personnel were dispatched to a homeless encampment in the 5900 block of Van Buren Boulevard around 7:30 a.m. after receiving the report of an active fire with possible injuries, Riverside PD has since reported.
When officials arrived, they found a well-involved fire burning within the encampment and located a man suffering from significant burns to his lower extremities.
While firefighters initiated an aggressive attack on the fire, paramedics began treating the burn victim for his extensive injuries before the man was transported to an area hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
Firefighters ultimately managed to contain the fire to the encampment, with minimal spread occurring to surrounding vegetation.
With the blaze extinguished, members of Riverside FD’s Fire/Arson Investigations Unit responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.
They were ultimately able to determine the cause of the fire and that it had been intentionally ignited by the suspect while the victim was sleeping inside the encampment.
Investigators gathered information and developed leads that helped them to identify Breyer as a possible suspect and disseminated their information to Riverside PD officers who located the suspect a few days later on Wednesday, April 20.
Arson investigators and Riverside PD’s Robbery-Homicide Unit investigators interviewed Breyer after which he was arrested. He was later booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on suspicion of attempted murder, arson to an inhabited structure or property, arson resulting in great bodily injuries, and a prior felony conviction enhancement.
Anyone with additional information regarding this investigation and arrest is encouraged to contact Riverside Fire/Arson Unit Captain Ray Mendoza at (951) 826-5640 or RBMendoza@RiversideCA.gov. Callers can refer to incident file number 220010090 and can remain anonymous.
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Trevor Montgomery, 51, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and operates Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS). Both are stringer organizations, providing breaking news coverage and community interest stories for other mainstream media organizations throughout the two regions they serve.
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.
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