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Home / Hemet

Authorities seek felon accused of fire zone burglaries in Hemet

A convicted felon accused with two others of breaking into a house that had been evacuated due to threats from a wildfire near Hemet was at large Monday, with an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

John Jason Blackwood, 43, was taken into custody in September with 31-year-old Deven Jessica Hooker and 50-year-old Michael Edward Serrano — all of Hemet — following a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation into a break-in near the unincorporated community of Sage.

Blackwood is charged with felony burglary and petty theft. He was slated to be arraigned on Oct. 11 but failed to appear at the Banning Justice Center, prompting Superior Court Judge Mark Singerton to revoke the defendant’s $10,000 bond and sign a bench warrant for his arrest.

Blackwood’s whereabouts were unknown Monday.

Last week, Hooker pleaded guilty to burglary, and in exchange for her admission, the District Attorney’s Office dropped one related felony and two misdemeanor counts.

Superior Court Judge Elaine Kiefer sentenced the defendant to 24 months felony probation, as well as 60 days in county jail.

During a hearing on Sept. 28 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Serrano admitted a felony burglary charge and was sentenced to two years probation, as well as 37 days in jail.

The trio were apprehended by sheriff’s deputies on the afternoon of Sept. 10 within the Fairview Fire evacuation zone.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony Pelato, patrol deputies were alerted to a vehicle cruising the area of Cora Lee Lane and Diamond Valley Road, 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 scorched just over 28,000 acres before it was fully contained two weeks later.

“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 that 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. Serrano had priors for burglary, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Hooker had prior misdemeanors for possession of controlled substances and shoplifting.

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