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Man Suspected Of Starting Fire In Atwater Target Arrested

ATWATER (CBS13) – An Atwater Target was evacuated Tuesday night after someone started a fire that filled the store with smoke.

The incident happened at the Target store along the 1000 block of Commerce Avenue.

Atwater police say their officers and Cal Fire personnel responded to the scene just after 9 p.m. to investigate a reported fire. The Target was full of smoke when officers arrived and all workers and customers had evacuated.

Cal Fire crews put out the fire; no one was hurt, police say.

atwater arson suspect
Surveillance photos of the suspect who started the fire inside the Target. (Credit: Atwater Police Department)

Officers identified the suspect after looking through Target's loss prevention surveillance cameras. A man was captured pushing a shopping cart through the grocery store. He then went out of view for a short time in the toilet paper isle. Once he comes back into view, he no longer had the cart and instead leaves the store – the fire is then found soon after.

Police say the man was last seen walking into the nearby Walmart.

atwater arrest
Jaime Rojas' booking photo. (Credit: Atwater Police)

Wednesday, police announced that the suspect - 42-year-old Atwater resident Jaime Rojas - had been arrested.

Not only is Rojas suspected in the fire, police allege he also burglarized an Atwater jewelry store on Wednesday. Police credit tips from the public in helping identify Rojas as the Target fire suspect.

Rojas was found hiding in a tree in the Cressy area of Merced County.

He's now facing charges of arson and commercial burglary.

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