Man charged with arson in south Austin duplex fire

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 27-year-old man was arrested in connection with suspected arson in a duplex that caused about $20,000 in damage over the weekend, according to an affidavit filed in court Monday.  

Zachariah James Gonzales, who roommates said was from San Antonio, was charged with first-degree felony arson after a fire started in the room of the duplex where he had been sleeping for a few weeks. 

Fire officials responded to reports of a trash fire just after 11:15 p.m. Saturday at a duplex on the 9600 Block of Sugar Hill Drive. Upon arrival, officials discovered the fire was actually in a bedroom on the B side of the duplex.

A mattress in a bedroom was on fire and officials worked to put it out. Witnesses told arson investigators that Gonzales was related to one of the resident’s boyfriend. He was reportedly from San Antonio and was staying at the home for a few weeks. 

On Saturday evening, roommates told investigators they were chopping firewood in the living room and Gonzales went to his bedroom. He later asked for his lighter and went back into his room. A few minutes later, the residents smelled smoke and discovered his mattress was ablaze. Gonzales was gone.

All the residents and witnesses told police that Gonzales had been acting strangely in the past few days and was saying odd things. They said he was “delusional,” and, “thinks everybody’s out to get him,” and was “talking crazy,” according to an affidavit.

One of the residents was in contact with Gonzalez the day after the fire. He asked her to pick him up from a place and the resident tipped off law enforcement who met him instead. Gonzales denied involvement in the crime when officers arrested him.  

His bond was set at $10,000 and officials ordered a mental health evaluation. 

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