Crime

Suspect arrested in arson fire at Tower District’s Livingstone’s restaurant

Fresno man arrested in arson fire at Livingstone’s Restaurant in Tower District

Justin Joseph Silva of Fresno broke into the Tower District restaurant and set the Dec. 20, 2016, blaze, fire investigators say. He was arrested Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, on charges of arson and burglary.
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Justin Joseph Silva of Fresno broke into the Tower District restaurant and set the Dec. 20, 2016, blaze, fire investigators say. He was arrested Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, on charges of arson and burglary.

Fresno Fire investigators Thursday identified Justin Joseph Silva, 33, as the person responsible for setting a fire at Livingstone’s Restaurant & Pub, closing the longtime Tower District watering hole and throwing dozens of employees out of work just before Christmas.

Silva was arrested after a monthlong investigation and taken into custody in northwest Fresno, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Don MacAlpine. He said Silva was responsible for setting fire to the “heart and soul of the Tower District.” MacAlpine said Silva had a “very significant motive” and was an “adult male who made very inappropriate decisions and was very self-serving.”

An arrest warrant for Silva filed in Fresno County Superior Court indicates that Silva had spent part of the night in the bar before the fire was set about 5 a.m. on Dec. 20. According to fire investigator Nathan Dansby, Silva said he arrived at Livingstone’s about 9 or 10 p.m. and began drinking. Text messages sent by Silva to a friend indicated that he was angry with security personnel at the bar and wanted to punch one.

The warrant also indicates that an Uber cab returned Silva to Livingstone’s parking lot shortly before 2:30 a.m. It said a homeless person who frequents the area had a conversation with a man who he did not previously know and who spoke about wanting to burn the business down. Investigators believe the man is Silva.

The warrant also refers to video evidence obtained from Bank of America cameras in Livingstone’s lot, which show a subject obtaining cardboard from a dumpster and walking toward the restaurant about 5 a.m. Clothing on that person matches the attire worn by Silva several hours earlier, according to the warrant. A witness also told Dansby that Silva remained angry with the pub after he was beat up there a year earlier.

MacAlpine said Silva did not have a significant criminal history prior to the arrest on charges of arson and burglary.

“We’re satisfied we have the only suspect,” he added.

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