LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A 19-year-old Las Vegas man set off a “massive” investigation when fireworks injured sightseers near The Mirage volcano on Jan. 3, according to a Metro police arrest report.
Jonathan Brian Arriaga faces felony charges after his arrest on Tuesday, more than a week after the incident.
A $10 mortar-style firework that was thrown onto a sidewalk near people who were watching the volcano caused a “pop” that prompted one victim to turn around.
The victim “then witnessed the secondary explosion, which shot molten sparks at his face, causing a surgical mask he was wearing to melt onto his skin, causing a painful burn to the bridge of his nose,” according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department arrest report.
The sparks also caused second-degree burns to the back of a woman’s leg.
A call for medical assistance started the investigation, which eventually involved counterterrorism detectives and several police departments in the search for the vehicle involved in the incident.
Surveillance video revealed a second firework incident on the Strip that night, and detectives eventually identified the white Ford Mustang caught on video during that incident.
The second incident involved a “pequeno” firework that was thrown at a Corvette on the Strip near Harmon Avenue. The intensity of the burning firework melted a spot on the carbon-fiber of the Corvette’s body, causing $2,500 in damage. That incident had not been reported when police began their search for the Mustang.
Arriaga was arrested at his father’s home near E. Vegas Valley Drive and Nellis Boulevard.
Charges against Arriaga include two counts of battery with a deadly weapon, using explosives to damage/destroy property with a person inside, disposing of an explosive/fire device and throwing a substance at a vehicle resulting in $2,500 damage. He is currently in custody on $55,000 bail at the Clark County Detention Center awaiting a court hearing on Thursday.
Investigators who interviewed Arriaga after his arrest found that he knew the firework was powerful enough to hurt someone. The fireworks were left over from items Arriaga bought for a New Year’s celebration, and he decided he was going to set them off on the Strip.
He initially told detectives that the idea of setting off the mortar-style firework near The Mirage was his passenger’s idea. He did not identify the passenger.