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Charges Dropped Against One Arson Suspect

Businesses along 1600 Park Street gutted by fire. (File photo.)

Businesses along 1600 Park Street gutted by fire. (File photo.)

Alameda police Lt. Jill Ottaviano confirmed for Action Alameda News this morning what had been reported in other outlets on Friday and over the weekend – charges of arson against Stephen Michael Petersen, 27, for suspected arson fires in Alameda on September 28th, have been dropped.

Petersen’s friends and supporters asserted from the outset that he was innocent, and said he had an alibi – working at Rooster’s Roadhouse bar at the time he was alleged to be setting fires.

Supporters set up a “Free Stephen Petersen” Facebook page and took to the media to defend him.

A straw poll conducted by Action Alameda News was notable not for the number of votes in favor of Petersen’s innocence, but for the dearth of votes asserting his guilt.

The Alamedan reported on Friday that an Alameda police sergeant and an Alameda firefighter had identified Petersen as a suspect.

Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen has not yet responded to an Action Alamedas News inquiry about the turn of events, and since that inquiry, Action Alameda News has made, given the intense public interest in the case, a public records request for the names of the police sergeant and firefighter that identified Petersen.

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