Graffiti, fire reported outside La Jolla Children's Learning Lab in Sorrento Valley

Teen linked to incident arrested

SAN DIEGO - A 14-year-old boy who lives in the area was arrested Tuesday within hours of allegedly carrying out a fiery vandalism rampage that wreaked an estimated $70,000 worth of monetary losses at a Sorrento Valley day care center, authorities reported.

A security guard at a nearby building reported the non-injury arson blazes at La Jolla Children's Learning Lab in the 10000 block of Pacific Heights Boulevard about 3 a.m., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

It took crews only a few minutes to douse the flames, which burned a plastic storage shed next to the center along with several other sections of exterior wall and parts of an adjacent playground, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said.

In addition to allegedly starting the fires, the teen is suspected of discharging a chemical fire extinguisher in a kitchen area and several other rooms; painting graffiti on walls, doors and toys; turning on stove-top burners and leaving them ignited; and throwing a chair through a window, possibly as a means of getting into the building.

Many parents scrambled to make other childcare arrangements because of the incident.

"I don't know, we [have to] figure it out," said one exasperated parent who arrived with her child only to find the day care center was closed.

"Fire crews found that someone had taken a fire extinguisher and just sprayed it randomly in several of the rooms. In a kitchen area they left the burners on," said Luque.

Nothing was stolen, though there were computers and other valuables inside the business at the time of the destructive spree.

Arson investigators put the fire damages at $10,000 and set the rest of the property losses at $60,000.

Naseem's Bakery and Kabob shop, which is located next to the day care center, was also vandalized.

"They did spray in the back, they did spray our storage area, too," said business owner Naseem Nowroozi.

10News learned 107 children attend day care at the center, and a representative for the company that owns the center said other arrangements would be made for the children.

However, parents 10News spoke with said there were no arrangements -- they were on their own.

"A day of work missed, obviously, but I just can't believe someone would vandalize a daycare," said parent Kara Coleman.

It's unclear when they'll be able to re-open.

Later in the morning, San Diego police arrested the teenager, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, and took him to juvenile hall for booking. It was not immediately clear where the boy was taken into custody.

No other suspects were being sought, according to Luque.

The youth allegedly admitted to committing the destructive acts and told investigators he also was responsible for another small fire that caused minor damage to a Mira Mesa church late last month, the spokesman said.

Luque said he had no information on a suspected motive for the crimes.

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