A Canyon Lake man accused of setting fires in an attempt to burn down his neighbors’ property and leading law enforcement officers on a 40-mile chase must stand trial for arson and other charges, a judge ruled Friday.
David Brian Harry, 45, allegedly perpetrated two attacks, roughly nine months apart, targeting the same residence in the 28000 block of Yosemite Place in Canyon Lake.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Davis found there was sufficient evidence to try Harry on two counts of arson and one count each of attempted murder, attempted arson, vandalism, stalking, burglary and evading law enforcement.
Davis scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Oct. 12 and ordered that the defendant continue to be held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
According to sheriff’s investigators, Harry was at odds with the couple living immediately adjacent to him, challenging the man to fights and regularly cursing the victims, for reasons not entirely clear. They told deputies that Harry had climbed onto their retaining wall to watch them and acted aggressively, even spitting on them, on different occasions.
On the evening of April 8, 2017, the defendant allegedly ignited a fire in his SUV and attempted to roll the vehicle toward the victims’ house, but it veered toward a neighboring residence, hit a golf cart and started a fire that damaged the cart, according to investigators.
Harry was arrested and booked into jail in lieu of $1 million bail. However, his attorney got the amount reduced by half, and the defendant was able to post bond and go home weeks later.
The victims, whose identities were not released, obtained a restraining order against him, but he proceeded to violate it, culminating in a confrontation on the afternoon of Jan. 3.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Curt Harris, Harry allegedly walked into the front yard and hurled a wooden stake through the front window of the victims’ home, and immediately afterward tossed in a lit road flare.
The curtains and carpet caught fire, but the female resident, who was alone at the time, was able to douse the flames, confining the blaze to a small area, Harris said.
The defendant allegedly stood outside the residence, shouting “expletives and vulgar comments,” at which point the woman yelled at him to leave.
Harry allegedly lit another flare and threw against the picket fence, igniting another fire that burned a section of the fence before the victim could extinguish the flames with a garden hose, according to Harris.
The sergeant said Harry then jumped into his pickup truck and sped away from the location, and sheriff’s deputies quickly caught up to him on a road between Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore.
The defendant soon transitioned to Interstate 15, heading northbound, where California Highway Patrol officers took over the pursuit, Curtis said.
The officers partially disabled Harry’s vehicle, but he managed to continue at slow speed on the freeway. Curtis said the chase stopped in the area of Featherly Park in Yorba Linda, where the pickup gave out.
“Harry refused officers’ commands to surrender, but he was eventually placed under arrest after a brief struggle from resisting their attempts to detain him,” Curtis said.
The defendant was treated for superficial injuries and booked into jail. Neither the female resident nor any law enforcement officers were hurt.