Mental evaluation ordered for arson suspect in California Holy Fire after outbursts in court

3 months 2 days 1 hour ago Friday, August 17 2018 Aug 17, 2018 Friday, August 17, 2018 7:14:03 PM CDT August 17, 2018 in News
By: Amir Vera and Alexandra Meeks, CNN

    (CNN) -- A judge has ordered a mental evaluation for the man accused of starting the Holy Fire that has burned more than 22,000 acres in California.

Judge Kimberly Menninger ordered the evaluation after the arraignment for Forrest Gordon Clark was suspended twice due to him having several outbursts.

"I have a doubt about the competence of this defendant," Menninger said during the hearing in Santa Ana.

Clark was arrested last week on suspicion of setting off the blaze after he allegedly sent a text to a volunteer fire chief two weeks ago saying, "The place is going to burn." He faces two counts of felony arson, one count of felony threat to terrorize, and one count of misdemeanor resisting arrest in connection with starting the Holy Fire in Cleveland National Forest, which has burned 22,896 acres and was 85% contained as of Friday morning.

Clark's outbursts Friday morning weren't the first time he displayed erratic behavior in court. Last week, Clark appeared in an Orange County court and yelled, "It's all a lie!" as a judge read the charges against him.

Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Milligan said last week that he's known Clark for decades and has long warned he posed a danger to the community.

Milligan said he was so wary of the suspect that he avoided going to the area of the remote Orange County canyon where Clark lives.

Milligan said that Clark came to his home some weeks ago to return items he said he had "borrowed" from the fire department.

When he told Clark he wanted nothing to do with him, the suspect swore at him and called him a jerk, Millian said.

The next morning, Milligan said, he got a mysterious text from an unknown number: "911 call sheriff." Milligan called back and though the reception was poor in the canyon, he recognized Clark's voice, he said. Later came an expletive-laden text that ended with the ominous warning: "The place is going to burn just like you planned."

Milligan said he did not know what that meant, adding that Clark sent emails to other people in which he talked about burning something.

If found guilty, Clark faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Before his arrest, Clark told a freelance cameraman he was asleep when the fire started and had no idea how it began.

In addition to the Holy Fire, firefighters in California are battling 15 blazes across the state.

More News

Grid
List
(CNN) -- While hundreds of families wait in agony to learn the fate of missing loved ones, officials gave a... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 10:18:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A St. Louis woman is headed to California and collecting donations along the way to help the victims... More >>
6 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 9:33:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
OZARK (AP) — Springfield's yoga community is speaking out after a pastor at an Assemblies of God megachurch warned Christians... More >>
6 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 9:15:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (all times local): 10:55 a.m. ... More >>
10 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 4:59:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
OMAHA (AP) — The Federal Reserve says farm income continued to decline across the Plains and western states this fall... More >>
12 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 3:32:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - One woman is in custody Sunday after a shooting late Saturday night on North Wester Lane, just... More >>
13 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 2:00:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Turkey Day came early for people in Columbia on Saturday. The Shiloh Christian Worship Center hosted its... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 11:18:00 AM CST November 18, 2018 in News
SAVANNAH (AP) — A cat owner in northwestern Missouri is crafting makeshift shelters to help keep stray cats warm during... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 11:05:00 AM CST November 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - One person was hospitalized Saturday evening after a shooting just east of Columbia, the Boone County Sheriff's... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:01:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
LAKE OZARK - Community members gathered Saturday to raise money for the Police Unity Tour. Every year, police officers... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 7:12:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man is home from the hospital Saturday after spending three weeks in the ICU, recovering from... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 6:58:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
PHELPS COUNTY - One man was airlifted to the hospital Saturday morning after he suffered "a large caliber gunshot wound... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 4:46:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Fall Into Art kicked off the weekend with its annual show, and artists shared what their art means... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 3:50:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - One of the largest holiday shopping events in mid-Missouri takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Columbia Exposition... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 2:20:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - From the amateurs to the professional travel teams, dodgeball players of all skill sets took part in the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 2:05:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A chase that reached speeds of 115 mph and a subsequent foot pursuit led to the arrest... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 12:50:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
Royal Palm Beach, FL ( WPTV ) -- Firefighters rescued several pets from a house fire in Royal Palm Beach... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:45:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - Another fatal crash occurred in Missouri early Saturday morning. 30 year-old Richard Lowry, of Eugene, was pronounced... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 5:57:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 34°
4am 32°
5am 31°
6am 31°
7am 30°