The Associated Press
WEST COVINA, Calif. (AP) -- Federal agents arrested a 25-year-old
member of a co-op dedicated to peace and environmentalism in
connection with arson fires and vandalism that did $1 million in
damage to a Hummer dealership.
Joshua Thomas Connole, of Pomona, Calif. was arrested at home Friday,
said Cpl. Rudy Lopez, a West Covina police spokesman. He was booked
for investigation of felony arson and vandalism and jailed $825,000
The fires Aug. 22 gutted a parts warehouse and destroyed 20 Hummer H2
sport utility vehicles at a West Covina, Calif. dealership. Another
20 Hummers and several Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs were badly damaged by
fire and spray paint.
Three other dealerships and at least four privately owned vehicles in
the area also were damaged during the vandalism spree.
Words such as "ELF," "Fat, Lazy Americans" and "I (heart) pollution"
were painted on the SUVs.
"ELF" stands for Earth Liberation Front, a loose association of
militant environmentalists. The group, which has taken responsibility
for other acts of arson and vandalism, claimed in an unsigned e-mail
that the SUV fires were "ELF actions."
In a phone interview from jail with the Los Angeles Times, Connole
denied involvement in the vandalism.
"I didn't have anything to do with that," Connole said. "I didn't
know what Earth Liberation Front was about."
After the arson and vandalism spree, the FBI released surveillance
video from a Ford dealership in Duarte, Calif. that showed two young
men spray-painting SUVS.
The Times, citing sources it did not identify, said Connole could be
seen on one surveillance tape just before dozens of vehicles were
Connole insisted in the interview that the person on the tape doesn't
look anything like him.
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His arraignment was set for Monday. Lopez said the FBI and the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were continuing an investigation of
possible federal crimes.