The Fire Department is now pinning the infamous 2005 firebombing of El Oriental de Cuba on a man now behind bars for a string of other arsons.
At the Nov. 5 Problem Properties meeting Lt. Thomas Ryan of the Fire department Major Case Unit linked the blaze to Jose Baez, 38, of Dorchester. Baez pleaded guilty in 2012 to four counts of arson, including one in Jamaica Plain. He’s serving 15 years in federal prison.
Back in 2012, a judge ruled Baez responsible for four additional Boston arsons, including twice trying to burn down Maria’s Hair Fashions on South Street.
Fire officials said he’s also responsible for an infamous 2005 attack on Hyde Square’s iconic El Oriental de Cuba restaurant. A Molotov Cocktail or something like one was thrown into the beloved eatery. Further arsons fire officials blame on Baez include the one at Forest Hills Dentistry on Aug. 17, 2006
“This was landmark case nationwide” said Ryan, because Baez was caught after being tracked for a year using an electronic device attached to his car. After the 9th Circuit Court approved using this device, Ryan monitored Baez’ movements night and day (and mostly at night)
“The guy was brazen,” Ryan said. “It was amazing he didn’t kill anybody.”
Baez was seen on surveillance camera footage after setting a fire on Firth Road in Roslindale in which a paraplegic was injured.
Baez burned El Oriental de Cuba because he allegedly was served a bad meal.
Maria’s Hair fashions was burned because the married owner refused his amorous advances.
It is unclear what motivated him to burn Forest Hills Dentistry at the corner of Tower Street. This business has been closed.
“Jamaica Plain is safer place with this man in federal prison.” said Ryan.
Keegan the Fire Dog Gets Free Care From MSPCA
Jamaica Plain is also a safer place with the addition of a fire detection dog trained to find sources of fires. He came from the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Program”, said Ryan as a gift from the Connecticut State Police which he said has the best fire detection unit in the region.
In gratitude for the Boston Fire Department’s quick actions in putting out a fire at the Massachusetts Society for the Protection of Animals on South Huntington Avenue in 2010 (not set by Baez), that agency is providing physical check ups and the typical canine inoculations free on the yellow Labrador.
The dog is currently undergoing certified training. He’s expected to be helping with fire investigations as soon as Thanksgiving.
Named Keegan, the Lab will be under the supervision of Ryan.