By News-Register staff • 

Arson ruled cause of Newberg dental fire; suspect dies

The cause of the Sunday April 10 fire that destroyed a portion of the DCI International/DCI Edge Newberg dental business was arson. The suspect was identified by Newberg-Dundee Police as Ricardo Cornejo Garcia, 46, a transient, and he died in the blaze, 

It’s believed Garcia selected the 33,000-square foot structure located at 305 N. Springbrook Road at random, and was suffering from issues of intoxication and/or mental health, police said.

They gave this account of the incident:

About 2 a.m., the Newberg-Dundee 911 dispatch center received a call from a male stating he was experiencing a medical issue and claimed to be at the Fred Meyer garden center, located a short distance across Highway 99W from the dental business.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue personnel were dispatched, but when the caller made statements about “vampires” being after him, police were dispatched. The caller also told the 911 dispatcher he was “going to start a fire.”

Officers searched the garden center and surrounding area and did not locate anyone but did observe smoke coming from an area across the highway, to the west.

They determined the dental building was on fire and requested fire personnel respond and also continued to search for the male caller.

With the entire building engulfed in flames, it was impossible for anyone to enter the structure. An interior search was further delayed several days due to extreme hazards left behind when the building collapsed.

“While waiting for proper excavating equipment to arrive at the fire scene, Newberg-Dundee police began to piece together a criminal investigation,” Sgt. Brian Hagan said in a press release.

It was determined the name originally given by the caller to be an alias for a wanted subject named Ricardo Garcia.

Due to recent interactions with him, investigators traced recent appearances of him to Providence Newberg Medical Center and the YCAP shelter in Newberg.

Hagan told the News-Register Newberg-Dundee Police had one recent encounter with Garcia, in early April, related to a disturbance at the hospital. There was no enforcement action taken.

It's believed Garcia had no permanent housing at the time of the fire and was known to stay at the YCAP shelter.

Recent video footage of him closely matched footage of a subject near the DCI building prior to the fire, making Garcia a person of interest for the crime.

On Tuesday, April 18, investigators located a deceased male among the rubble of the building. He had no identification with him.

Following extensive verification efforts, including the use of medical records and contact with potential family members, Garcia was positively identified. McMinnville Police and the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office assisted with identifying him, according to Hagan. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be smoke inhalation.

It’s believed that Garcia, while suffering from a mental health crisis, may have thought he was at the garden center, prompting him to give the wrong location during his initial call.

He then forced his way into the DCI building, and for unknown reasons, chose to set the structure on fire from the inside.

Hagan told the News-Register this case highlights the struggle law enforcement has with ongoing mental health issues.

"We just hope the state can come up with a long term plan," he said.

He also extended his condolences to the Garcia family and everyone associated with DCI.






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