A Palo Alto man was arrested Sunday, Jan. 10, and charged with attempted murder and arson after he allegedly tried to burn down his former boss's Eichler home.
Muhammad Hassan Khan, 26, was arrested without incident at his Webster Street home on Sunday, police said. The arrest came a day after police and firefighters responded to a reported fire on the 3400 block of Kenneth Drive, an area in the Loma Verde neighborhood that is dominated by wooden and infamously flammable Eichler homes.
In this case, however, the fire didn't get past the garage area. The three people in the home, a couple in their 50s and a teenager, were awakened shortly after 6 a.m. on Saturday by a smoke detector in their attached garage, according to police. They quickly discovered that the garage was full of smoke, police said.
When the woman tried to open the garage door, she reportedly burned her hand. The man, meanwhile, went outside and saw that the exterior of the garage, including the driveway to the garage, were on fire, according to police. The man then used a garden hose to put the fire out just before Palo Alto police officers and firefighters arrived at the scene.
Police said the garage sustained moderate-to-major damage. The woman was treated at the scene by the fire department for what police said was a minor burn injury.
According to a press release from the police department, it didn't take long for investigators to suspect arson and to identify a suspect, who police described as a "disgruntled former employee of the male victim."
The Santa Clara County Arson Task Force and an accelerant-detecting dog from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety assisted with the investigation.
Police said Khan was booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail for arson of an inhabited dwelling (a felony) and attempted murder. After that the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed a felony count of arson of an inhabitant dwelling against Khan, with an enhancement for using an accelerant, police said.
Police said the investigation is continuing and the DA may amend the filed charge as appropriate.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 650-383-8984.