DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of California

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 27, 2018
Adam L. Braverman
, United States Attorney
Contact: Shital Thakkar

Man Sentenced to 10 Years for 2016 Encinitas Arson Spree

SAN DIEGO – Tyler Carender was sentenced in federal court today to 10 years in prison for damaging and destroying buildings at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Oak Crest Middle School in Encinitas on three separate occasions in the fall of 2016, by means of fire and an explosive device.

 

Carender was arrested in July 2017 at his home on Island View Lane in Encinitas, which is adjacent to Oak Crest Middle School and about 400 yards from the church. He pleaded guilty on March 9, 2018 to all three arson-related charges in the indictment.

 

In his plea agreement, Carender admitted that he began his 21-day arson spree on Saturday, October 22, 2016, when he set fire to the “Friendship House” Counseling and Youth Center building at the Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church complex on Balour Drive in Encinitas.  The rapid response of the Encinitas Fire Department prevented the fire from spreading to other church buildings and nearby residences.  However, the Youth Center was destroyed, resulting in an estimated monetary loss of at least $200,000.  St. Andrew’s uses the Youth Center building to house its youth group functions and to provide food, meals and shelter to the needy in the community. 

 

Carender also admitted that a week later, on Saturday, October 29, he set fire to the Administrative Building at the Oak Street Middle School by breaking into the building and using gasoline to set fire to books and files within the building.  Encinitas firefighters who arrived at the scene initially entered the building to fight the fire.  However, due to the extent and intensity of the fire and the possible collapse of the roof, they were forced to retreat from the building and battle the blaze from the exterior.  Carender admitted that his criminal conduct created substantial risk of injury to firefighters responding to the blaze.  The damage caused by Carender’s arson not only rendered the administrative hub of the school unusable, but destroyed student records and displaced staff -- significantly disrupting the daily functions and operations of the school.  The estimated monetary loss to the San Dieguito Union High School District is at least $1.5 million. 

 

Carender also admitted that two weeks later he returned to the St. Andrew’s campus, and threw a Molotov Cocktail into the office of the church’s Preschool Building, causing another fire.  The resulting damage to the building is estimated to be at least $25,000.  The Preschool services approximately 80 students, and includes non-members of the parish.    

 

According to court filings, San Diego Sheriff’s detectives received an anonymous tip from Crime Stoppers, which identified Carender as the arsonist.  Thereafter, Carender confided in a classmate about committing the three arsons, and that classmate informed investigators and provided a recording of a conversation with the defendant admitted his involvement in setting the fires.  After the Carender was arrested, he initially lied to agents, claiming innocence.

However, after being confronted with evidence, he admitted starting all three fires.

 

At today’s hearing, the Reverend Brenda Sol, rector at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, addressed Carender and the Court stating that Carender’s actions cost the church a lot more than just money and time – it affected the lives of their church community and nearby neighbors in other more damaging ways.  Members of the church and local residents experienced great emotional distress.  The fires caused them to fear for their safety, placing them on constant alert.  Families also pulled their children out of the Preschool, fearing further attacks.  The fires also caused the church to divert resources from programs to feed the hungry in order to buy a security system. However, Rev. Sol expressed that although the church congregation is sad, they are not angry with Carender.   In addressing Carender directly, Rev. Sol stated,

 

“We pray that you understand the depth and breadth of the lives you touched in such horrible and negative ways, so that you understand you can touch just as many lives doing helpful and beneficial things . . . We want you to know that when you committed these crimes on our property, you became one of us, so you will always have a home at St. Andrew’s.”

 

In imposing the ten year sentence, Judge Janis L. Sammartino noted that Carender’s crimes were “horrific” and the damage from his arson spree went “far and wide – far beyond property damage.”  The Court deferred the determination of court ordered restitution until December 7, 2018, but is estimated that the restitution will exceed $1.5 million. 

 

“It is very clear that all of the victims are still recovering from the emotional, psychological and physical damage caused by the defendant,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “While the victims have graciously offered forgiveness, this sentence is an appropriate outcome for serious crimes that put people and property at great risk.”

 

“Arson is an act we take very seriously,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Bill McMullan. “ATF uses its certified fire investigators to build these complex cases when arsonists commit these violent crimes. Damaging and attempting to destroy our community schools and places of worship will not be tolerated.”

 

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 17cr1588                               

Tyler Carender                                                Age: 22                                   Encinitas, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

 

Counts 1 and 3:

Malicious Damage to Buildings or Real Property Affecting Interstate Commerce by Means of Fire or an Explosive, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844 (i)

 

Count 2:

Malicious Damage to Buildings and Real Property Receiving Federal Financial Assistance by Means of Fire or an Explosive, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sec. 844(f )(1) and (f )(2)

 

AGENCY

 

U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

 

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Field Division: Los Angeles Field Division