Mission San Gabriel Fire Determined to be Arson, John David Corey Jr. Charged

Today, San Gabriel officials announced the completion of the investigation into the fire that occurred at the Mission San Gabriel on July 11, 2020.

After a multi-agency investigation, investigators charged John David Corey Jr., 57, with two felony counts of arson of an inhabited structure, one count each of arson during a state of emergency, first-degree residential burglary and possession of flammable material. The case has been filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

From the San Gabriel Valley region, John David Corey Jr. was originally arrested for a separate arson case in San Gabriel that occurred after the Mission San Gabriel fire which resulted in a three year sentence. It was during this separate incident that investigators deemed Mr. Corey a person of interest in the Mission San Gabriel case. After a thorough investigation, investigators determined that Corey was responsible for the fire at the Mission San Gabriel. Corey will be arraigned at the Los Angeles Criminal Court and faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

John David Corey Jr.

Led by the Verdugo Fire Investigation Task Force, this investigation included the resources and assistance of the San Gabriel Police Department, the San Gabriel Fire Department, the San Marino Fire Department, the Glendale Fire Department, the Monterey Park Fire Department, the Monrovia Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistance was also provided by the FBI and the Los Angeles City Fire Department and their arson K9 team.

Originally reported at 4:24 a.m. to the Verdugo Fire Communications Center on July 11, 2020 at 4:24 a.m., the Mission San Gabriel incident drew over 85 firefighters, 12 engine companies, 5 truck companies, 4 rescue ambulances and 5 battalion chiefs as a 4-alarm fire. Nearly 50% of the on-duty fire resources of the West San Gabriel Valley were called to the incident as a result of automatic aid agreements within the region. Due to the efforts of the firefighters, the fire was stopped before it reached the alter, museum and the adjacent rectory. There were no civilian injuries, though one firefighter from the San Gabriel Fire Department sustained non-life threatening injuries and has since made a full recovery.

“I’d like to thank our neighboring agencies for their support during the investigation,” said San Gabriel Fire Department Chief Steve Wallace. “Their assistance during a challenging year has been instrumental in our investigation of the Mission San Gabriel fire.”

Due to the ongoing nature of this case, additional questions about the investigation and the suspect may be directed to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office through their Media Relations Division.

For more information about this incident, please visit this page on SanGabrielCity.com.