La Mesa

Sentencing Delayed For Man Who Set Fire to Historic La Mesa Building During 2020 Riot

Daniel Sandoval pleaded guilty to setting a historic building on fire during a riot that overtook downtown La Mesa in 2020.

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A man who set fire to a historic La Mesa building will have to wait to be sentenced. NBC 7’s Joe Little reports.

The Campo man who set a historic La Mesa building on fire after peaceful protests turned violent the night of May 31, 2020, will have to wait to be sentenced.

Last month, Daniel Sandoval plead guilty to setting fire to the Randall Lamb and Associates building during the riot that followed peaceful protests related to the controversial arrest of a Black man by La Mesa police and the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.

Sandoval was scheduled to be sentenced Monday, but he was unable to attend court proceedings because he was quarantined in jail through Dec. 3 due to COVID-19, according to his attorney.

“It was crazy. It was totally unexpected,” recalled Andrew Aquino while thinking about the protests that began in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. “Flashbangs, yelling, and then, all of a sudden, everything went up.”

That’s when Aquino remembered watching two banks and a historic building burn -- the Chase Bank is being built again and what was a Union Bank remains an empty lot. Aquino’s North Pole Christmas Tree lot now sits where the historic Randall Lamb and Associates building once stood.

“The worst day of my life,” winced Brenda Leek. “I did not know that I was going to watch three buildings be engulfed in fire.”

Leek owns the Curbside restaurant right around the corner. She watched in horror one night as La Mesa turned to chaos, only to be warmed just a few hours later when the streets flooded with people working to clean up the city.

“That is the community that La Mesa is and has been ever since!” she exclaimed.

“I feel like it unites people a little bit, the community,” added Aquino.