Security cameras capture arsonist
Walmart estimates damages at $42 million
Last updated 9/12/2023 at 8:10pm
Security cameras show arson suspect Jimmy Guillen entering a closed Walmart “though a roll up door used for shopping carts on the northeast side of the store,” court records show.
The cameras also show him “grabbing multiple bottles of propane canisters off store shelves and starting a fire by “placing a torch with an open flame on the shelves where other propane canisters are located.”
“The fire begins to intensify and becomes larger and larger” until the video cameras stopped recording at 3:34 a.m., reads the affidavit for arrest warrant filed Monday morning against Guillen.
Firefighters were alerted to the fire at 3:36 a.m. that Sunday, records show. That was 12 minutes after police allege Guillen entered the store.
Walmart has estimated damages at $42 million.
Police on Tuesday were trying to locate Guillen, last seen in Clovis just before 7 a.m. on Sept. 3 when police detained him for questioning. Authorities said he was released after he requested an attorney and police didn’t have enough evidence to hold him.
Officials have accused Guillen of arson, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and felon in possession of a destructive device.
The affidavit outlines much of the evidence against him, though Clovis Police Capt. Robert Telles said “the investigation is still preliminary and there’s still a lot to be done.”
The affidavit shows police began reviewing the Walmart security video last Wednesday. Telles said Guillen first entered the closed store at 3:24 a.m. Sept. 3 – 12 minutes before the fire was reported.
The store was closed when Guillen entered with a propane torch and canister that had a package duct-taped to it, the records show. That package was later located by police and found to contain “shrapnel objects … beads, glass, rocks and other sharp objects.”
Police allege Guillen can be seen walking around the automotive and sporting goods area where the fire is believed to have started on the building’s south side.
It also shows him “grabbing multiple bottles of propane canisters off store shelves and “placing a torch with an open flame on the shelves where other propane canisters are located.”
Prior to watching the video, officials located propane canisters inside and outside the store, along with the package later found to contain the sharp objects. Much of that evidence had blood on it, records show. Police also found scattered glass from a door “that leads from the garage area to the automotive checkout area. … (T)here was a hole in the glass wide enough for an arm to pass through.”
The affidavit filed Monday also reported Clovis police had identified Guillen as a “person of interest” a few hours after the fire. He was located near Llano Estacado and Prince streets and detained for questioning.
The affidavit shows Guillen had “ash and soot on this clothing” and “cuts and abrasions on his hands.” After police advised Guillen of his Miranda rights, he stated he wanted an attorney. Police then released him “due to not having any further evidence,” the record shows.
Police began looking for him again a few hours later after learning of video from Lowes Home Improvement near Walmart that showed Guillen trying to start a fire outside that business at 3:15 a.m. – 21 minutes before the Walmart fire was first reported.
Police have described Guillen as a transient from California, but they’ve released little information about his past or where he may have gone since officials last saw him about 7 a.m. Sept. 3 in Clovis.
Anyone with information on Guillen’s whereabouts is asked to call Clovis police at 575-769-1921 or Crime Stoppers at 575-763-7000.
Walmart issued the following statement early Monday afternoon:
“The Clovis Supercenter remains closed while we assess damage and make plans for its reopening. During that time, store associates continue to be paid for their scheduled shifts and will have opportunities to work at nearby locations. We’ll also continue serving customers at our Portales, NM store on 1604 E Spruce St. and on Walmart.com.”