Trio Charged with Burglarizing Property in Fire Evacuation Zone Near Hemet

City News Service

(CNS) – Three people — including two convicted felons — accused of breaking into a house that was evacuated due to a wildfire near Hemet were charged Wednesday with felony burglary.

John Jason Blackwood, 43, Deven Jessica Hooker, 31, and Michael Edward Serrano, 50 — all of Hemet — were arrested Saturday following a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation within the Fairview Fire evacuation zone.

In addition to burglary, the trio is charged with theft, and Hooker alone is charged with possession of a controlled substance.

She is being held in lieu of $35,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, where Serrano is being held on $10,000 bail. Blackwood posted a $10,000 bond Monday and was released from the same facility.

Hooker and Serrano were slated to make a joint initial court appearance Wednesday at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

Blackwood is slated to be arraigned on Sept. 29.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony Pelato, on Saturday afternoon, patrol deputies were alerted to a vehicle cruising the area of Cora Lee Lane and Diamond Valley Road in Sage, an unincorporated community southeast of Hemet.

The sparsely populated neighborhood was among multiple locations placed under an evacuation warning or mandate because of the deadly Fairview Fire, which erupted on Labor Day and has since scorched 28,000 acres. It is 69% contained, and most evacuation orders have since been lifted.

“Deputies performing high-visibility patrols safeguarding evacuated properties responded rapidly to canvass the area in search of the suspicious vehicle and persons,” Pelato said. “The deputies located the vehicle with one suspect inside and began a ground search for the additional suspects.”

Hooker was arrested at the wheel of the car.

Pelato said deputies spotted a house on Cora Lee with a broken window and conducted a search, locating the two men inside. They were taken into custody without incident.

According to court records, Blackwood has prior convictions for possession of controlled substances while armed, making criminal threats and vehicle theft.

Hooker has prior misdemeanors for possession of controlled substances and shoplifting, while Serrano has prior felony convictions for burglary, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, records showed.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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