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Son of Eagle Rock’s Chamber of Commerce President Among the Suspects Arrested in Eagle Rock Brush Fire ‘Intentionally Set’ near Homeless Encampment

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]wo men, 25-year-old Bryan A. Araujocabrera of Pacoima and 25-year-old Daniel M. Nogueira of Eagle Rock, were arrested in Eagle Rock on Saturday, August 31, six days after the Eagle Rock brush fire that started just after 4 PM on Sunday, August 25. The two men were booked on suspicion of attempted murder, Office Mike Lopez with LAPD said in a written statement.

KTLA reported that Araujocabrera’s bail was set at $1.116 million, and Nogueira’s bail was set at $1 million. Nogueira, who is the son of the President of Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce Michael Nogueira, posted bond and was released on Sunday, September 1.

Investigators believe that the fire was intentionally set after a verbal altercation between someone inside a blue pickup truck and occupants of a homeless encampment near the Glendale Freeway. An investigation by the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section (LAFD ACTS) revealed the fire to be intentional and targeting the members of the encampment.

Daniel Michael Nogueira (DOB: 2/23/94) of Eagle Rock.
Daniel Michael Nogueira (DOB: 2/23/94) of Eagle Rock.
Bryan Antonio Araujo-Cabrera DOB: (6/13/94)  of Pacoima.
Bryan Antonio Araujo-Cabrera of Pacoima.

The fire spread to 45 acres over two days and involved over 300 firefighters by land and air, according to a report by the LAFD. While no civilians are reported to be injured, nor buildings destroyed, one firefighter did sustain a non-life threatening injury, and many were forced to evacuate the area.

Annie Choi, owner of Found Coffee, was working the day of the fire, but by the time the news of the fire reached her, the shop was nearly closed for the day. She said she saw smoke from her vantage point and noticed that traffic was backed up for hours. “We had a private event after hours and it took some of the guests 1.5-2 hours to get to the shop,” Choi told L.A. Taco over email.

It is not clear how members of the encampment were able to get to safety. This brings to attention emergency preparedness as it relates to the homeless population. Gary Painter is the director of social policy at the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, as well as the director of the Homelessness Policy Research Institute. “What do we have to do in the short term is to help people move off the streets in a safe way, and also you really have to be thinking about how you can help people in the long term to make sure that people can be rehoused,” Painter told the Taco.

“Violence against those experiencing homelessness is emboldened by toxic language at all levels in our city. From Nextdoor forums to proposed legislation coming out of City Hall, compassion has turned to hostility. Damaging words are being shared online and off that further distance the unhoused from the housed. We call on our elected leaders to put an end to this fatal rhetoric before it claims more lives.”

With regard to short-term safety, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance on Wednesday that gives law enforcement the authority to order people experiencing homelessness out of encampments in brush areas on high-risk fire days. The ordinance is expected to be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. NBC LA reported that City Councilman Paul Krekorian said that the law should be used to ensure people’s safety, rather than to discriminate against the unhoused. 

“This is not a homeless issue. It's an effort to move people out who are violating the law. People who are trespassing ... and increasing the fire risk need to be dealt with appropriately,” Krekorian said. “I hope the story won't be that this is an attack on homelessness. It is not.”

“We were devastated to hear about the senseless arson against our neighbors in Eagle Rock. This attack is another reminder that hostile property owners, policymakers and vigilantes represent a greater threat to our unhoused neighbors than those neighbors pose to anyone else."

LAist reported in June that homelessness is up 16% in Los Angeles, and 12% in LA County. The Eagle Rock fire is yet another case in a recent rise in attacks on unhoused Angelenos. Just one day after the Eagle Rock fire began, Skid Row resident and artist Darrell Fields was burned to death, as reported last week by the Taco’s Lisa Kwon, along with a shooting in San Julian park that wounded four, and an attack on 59-year-old Gustavo Zeledon in the 800 block of 5th Street. Then this past Sunday, another man was killed while crossing the street in West L.A. 

“We were devastated to hear about the senseless arson against our neighbors in Eagle Rock. This attack is another reminder that hostile property owners, policymakers and vigilantes represent a greater threat to our unhoused neighbors than those neighbors pose to anyone else. Proposed amendments to LAMC 41.18(c) set the stage for even more violence by providing a legal justification in the form of a defacto ‘stand your ground' law,” Lex Roman of the SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition and fellow board member Mike O’Shea wrote to the Taco over email. 

“Violence against those experiencing homelessness is emboldened by toxic language at all levels in our city. From Nextdoor forums to proposed legislation coming out of City Hall, compassion has turned to hostility. Damaging words are being shared online and off that further distance the unhoused from the housed. We call on our elected leaders to put an end to this fatal rhetoric before it claims more lives,” Roman and O’Shea wrote.

The case against Araujocabrera and Nogueira was brought to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday, September 4 for felony arson filing consideration. Prosecutors are still weighing criminal charges.

L.A. Taco has reached out to Michael Nogueira for comment but has not heard back. We will update accordingly.

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