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Local fire captain had church friend burn car to get out of living at parents' house, warrant says

Michael Anthony Salinas, 34, facing arson, retaliation charges

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – A local fire captain is charged with arson and retaliation after he had a church friend burn his car, then threatened someone to whom he had confessed to stop them from telling others, a warrant states.

Michael Anthony Salinas, 34, a captain with the Emergency Services District 5 Fire and Rescue Fire Department, confessed to a confidential law enforcement source that he had a friend from church burn his 2017 Ford Focus because the $400 to $500 monthly payments were too high and he wanted to move out of his parents' home, court documents state.

Salinas told the confidential source that he had a friend take his car in the middle of the night on June 3, 2018, and burn it, according to a warrant. Authorities with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office found the burning vehicle in the 4200 block of Noyes Road around 4:30 a.m. and reported it to the Bexar County Fire Marshal's Office, court documents explained. 

An arson investigator assigned to the case noted in court documents that the scene smelled of gasoline and that there were trails of an ignitable liquid leading to and from the charred vehicle.

Investigators said the confidential source contacted law enforcement in September and told authorities that Salinas confessed to having the car burned by his friend and that his friend had burned cars before and had never gotten in trouble, the warrant states.

According to court documents, Salinas' parents had suspicions about what happened to the car because he had taken personal belongings out of the car, including his daughter's car seat, before the car was found burned.

In December 2018, authorities obtained an audio recording of Salinas telling the confidential source to not say anything about his role in the car fire and to stall investigators long enough so that he would be able to spend the holidays with his daugher, the warrant states. According to court documents, the audio recording also included Salinas telling the confidential source he wished he would've never told them about the car burning and that he thought they were friends.

On March 1, the confidential source alerted authorities that Salinas had threatened them, according to the warrant. Salinas told the confidential source that if they told anyone he had his vehicle burned, the church friend who burned the car would come after the source and the source's family, the warrant states.

The confidential source also told law enforcement that Salinas was always apprehensive to name the church friend who had burned his car because the person would come after Salinas, according to court records.

Salinas was arrested late Friday on two felony charges of retaliation and arson.