Suspected arsonist caught, released from jail two days later

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Neighbors in Albuquerque’s Huning Highlands neighborhood have been dealing with random fires for months. Some believe they can track them to one man.

“He’s been terrorizing this neighborhood for at least six months,” said Ben Sturge, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade.

Last Saturday, Sturge caught a man on his security cameras lighting a fire at the edge of his property, feet from his historic, wooden, casita. 

Sturge says his son spotted the man an hour later, so they called 911, and took off after him.

“He started throwing bricks, he threw a chunk of concrete at me, I had a can of pepper spray and I used it just to get him to stop,” explained Sturge. 

APD arrested the suspect, Sly Jones, for arson, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and felony drug possession.

A judge released Jones two days later.

“Hammers home what all the cops tell me, which is: we arrest these people, and then we rearrest them, and rearrest them, and we just keep arresting them, and they just keep breaking the law,” said Sturge.

APD arrested Jones in April of 2021 for setting a dumpster fire in downtown and throwing rocks at the man who called 911. 

Three months later, in July 2021, they arrested him again after another large dumpster fire. A judge found Jones incompetent, and dismissed that felony charge.

“He’s obviously mentally ill as well as on drugs which is always a really toxic combination,” said Sturge. “Guy obviously needs treatment, but we also need enforcement, because he’s going to torch this neighborhood.”

Sturge explained its Albuquerque’s second-oldest neighborhood, with less than 200 historic homes. As a house restorer himself, he doesn’t want to see history go up in flames.

“We don’t want to leave Albuquerque, but it’s one of those things where it’s just like ‘how much more are we going to put up with?'” said Sturge.

Sly Jones has a status hearing in this most recent case next month.