GRPD: Man tried to burn down home over ‘bad memories’

Grand Rapids
grand rapids swensberg avenue arson suspect

Surveillance photos showing a man who twice tried to set fire to a house on Swensberg Avenue NE in Grand Rapids.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police say a man who tried to set a house on fire twice this month said he had “bad memories” from when he lived there.

Incident #1

9/19/19 Update: IDENTIFIEDWe would like to thank the public for your assistance in the swift identification of this arson suspect. Investigators have interviewed the suspect, and the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office has authorized charges of 2nd and 3rd Degree Arson against 23 year old Rafael Torres-Mendoza of Wyoming, MI. Torres-Mendoza has been lodged at KKCF since his interview on 9/18 where he will remain until his next court date.###Community Information Release:Grand Rapids Police Asking for Public’s Help Finding ArsonistThe Grand Rapids Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying a subject involved in two separate arsons on the City’s Northeast side. A residence in the 2000 block of Swensberg Avenue NE has experienced two arson attempts since the beginning of September. Area security cameras caught both incidents on video. The footage clearly shows a white male attempting to set fire to the home. The subject appears to be wearing a black, hooded, Northface jacket, black pants, and black boots.The Grand Rapids Police Department is sharing the videos with the public, and our media partners, in the hope that someone with information will come forward. These acts of violence are not tolerated in our community. We appreciate any information the public can provide about these crimes, so that we may ensure a safe community for everyone. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the GRPD at 456-3400 or Silent Observer at 774-2345 or

Posted by Grand Rapids Police Department on Monday, September 16, 2019

Officers announced Thursday that tips generated by the surveillance video and images they released Monday led them to Rafael Torres-Mondoza.

The 23-year-old man was arrested for allegedly trying to burn down a home in the 2000 block of Swensberg Avenue north of Knapp Street NE. Security cameras captured the act both times.

Investigators believe Torres-Mondoza has no connection to the people who now live at the home.

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