LONG BEACH — A 27-year-old man pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to a charge of attempted murder in the Oct. 19 firebombing attack of a 54-year-old Long Beach resident.
Jacob Timothy Lagarde's bail was also revoked by Long Beach Superior Court Judge Gary Ferrari for a charge on probation violation, stemming from his release from Men's Central Jail on a 90-day misdemeanor drug sentence Oct. 19.
Court records show Lagarde was charged with a felony in Compton, but pleaded down to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to 90 days Oct. 16. He served three days and had been out of jail about three hours before he allegedly made the Molotov cocktail he threw at the victim, who remains in guarded condition at a local hospital, authorities said.
Lagarde appeared in court with his head shaved and a tattoo around one side of his skull. He answered all of the judge's questions with a casual "yeah" before he was ordered to be returned to the court on Dec. 5 for a preliminary conference hearing.
Preliminary hearings are used to determine if there is enough evidence to hold a defendant over for trial.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office charged Lagarde on Oct. 24 with six felony counts, including one count each of attempted murder, explosion with intent to commit murder and explosion causing mayhem or great bodily injury. Three counts of arson were also filed, according to the criminal complaint.
Police and prosecutors said last month Lagarde is a gang member, though not of a Long Beach gang, and he was arrested at an Eastside residence a few days after the attack, which isn't believed to be gang-related.
Investigators are also still working on what motivated Lagarde to do such a thing, investigators said Thursday.
The incident occurred at about 7 p.m. outside of a market located at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. Though a number of people were standing nearby, including a woman with a baby in a stroller, no one else was injured, police said.
Several people at the market the following day said the victim was a regular at the shop who came in almost every day to buy lottery tickets with his dad.
Witnesses told Fire Department and Police Department investigators the suspect lit a bottle filled with some type of flammable liquid before throwing it at the feet of the victim, who was waiting outside the store for a relative shopping inside.
The victim was engulfed in flames and ran from the parking lot, where people chased after him to help him and were able to eventually extinguish the fire, authorities said.
All of this was captured on surveillance video and images of the video led to a tip that Lagarde was staying at an apartment complex in East Long Beach, police said.
His last known address is in Long Beach, though his adult criminal record includes felony cases and drug convictions in local courts throughout Los Angeles County, including Compton, Norwalk, Bellflower and Downey.
That includes multiple convictions in 2003 in different cities on charges of resisting arrest and taking a vehicle without the owner's permission, making death threats and robbery; and in 2010 he was convicted of grand theft. He also has numerous drug convictions, including being under the influence and possession of a controlled substance, in 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and a strike on his record.
A number of charges have also been filed, but dismissed, in each of his previous adult convictions, including assault with a deadly weapon and battery causing serious injury, court records show.
Anyone with information about the motive for the attack, or witnesses who have yet to come forward, are urged to do so immediately by calling the Long Beach Fire Department's arson hotline at 562-570-2582. Anonymous tips can be made by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637) or go to www.lacrimestoppers.org.