Monday, June 27, 2022
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PETA Petitions Mendocino County DA to Charge Accused Hopkins Fire Arsonist with Animal Cruelty

The statue of a cat gazes over the remains of a home during the Hopkins Fire [Picture by Matt LaFever]

A representative of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has reached out to Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster advocating that Devin Lamar Johnson, the Ukiah man accused of purposefully lighting the Hopkins Fire on September 12, 2021, be charged with animal cruelty after their “Cruelty Investigations Department” found that at least three dogs, two cats, as well as several finches, parakeets, and parrots lost their lives in the fire.

The letter, signed by Sarah Deffinger, a Senior Evidence Analyst in PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department, recognizes that the Hopkins Fire destroyed over 46 homes and other structures and more than 250 acres of land while also inflicting “terror and suffering on many domesticated and wild animals and cause them to endure prolonged, agonizing deaths.”

Deffinger writes that PETA’s advocacy resulted in a Jackson County Oregon District Attorney charging accused arsonist Michael Jarrod Bakkela with animal cruelty who reportedly lit a fire in Phoenix, Oregon on September 8, 2020. The Almeda Fire destroyed 2,600 homes in a matter of hours and led to the deaths of a sheep, a canary, a lamb, chickens, a raccoon and a goldfish. 

We spoke with Colin Henstock, PETA’s Assistant Manager of Investigations, about his organization’s animal advocacy and how it has intersected with wildfires. He told us that as the climate continues to change, the risk of wildfires grows, and PETA wants people who are starting these fires and harming animals held accountable.

Suspect, Devin Johnson, on the left, gazing back over the fire he was arrested for allegedly setting. [Photo by Peter Armstrong]

Henstock said the animals lost in wildfires are often “lost in the bigger picture of the entire tragedy. When you see dozens of homes lost and hundreds of acres burned, it is easy to forget these animals that die suffer a terrifying and horrific death.”

To put their advocacy for animal cruelty charges in perspective, Henstock proposed hypotheticaly, “If a single animal was lit on fire in a public space, the community would be outraged. Why would the animals lost in these fires be any different?”

PETA is also encouraging Shasta County’s District Attorney Stephanie A. Bridgett to charge Alexandra Andreevna Souverneva for the animals that died in the Fawn Fire which she is accused of lighting. The Fawn Fire has destroyed 185 residential and commercial structures and resulted in the burning of 8,595 acres of wildland 

Hensworth said PETA works hard to collaborate with law enforcement to “increase legal protections of animals under the law.”

Outside of the scope of animal cruelty and arson, Henstock wanted to remind the community that the most effective method to mitigate climate change, as determined by researchers and the University of Chicago, was to go vegan and avoid animal products. “This is more effective than going from gasoline cars to hybrid and is the best thing anyone can do to stop climate change.”

Devin Johnson [Mugshot provided by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Booking Logs]

As per charging documents submitted by the Mendocino County District Attorney Devin Lamar Johnson was charged with two counts of aggravated arson. One count was prompted by the fire causing property damage and fire response expenses in excess of $8,300,000 and the other count was the result of the fire causing damage to five or more inhabited structures.

As per the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Booking Logs Johnson remains in the county jail with his bail set at $2,000,000.



    • Restitution in this case is simply not possible — you can’t get blood from a stone.
      If convicted, the injustice will continue, as taxpayers will still be on the hook to house, clothe and feed this poor, lost soul.

      Why was he not doing something better with his life?
      Why was he not gainfully employed somewhere?
      What were his family circumstances?
      Did he even have a “family” to speak of?

      The real tragedy is that society has rejected God and the Christian civilization that built it.
      We are now reaping what has been sowed for 60 years.

      Until the root cause is addressed, there will be many more tragedies like this to come.

  1. This world is full of injustice. And the sad thing is we are all guilty. Of something. There are none righteous, no not one….😭 But in the end the WHOLE truth comes out.
    God help us all.

    Especially the self righteous.

    It’s always good to remember that the mercy we show is gonna be the mercy we will receive from God on the day of judgement. Coming soon to a city near you!

    Repent! That means TURN from YOUR sin. Then you might be qualified to judge.

    These “poor souls” belong to God, just as you do. Pray for them.

    It doesn’t matter what YOU believe. Father God The Creator will judge the world by HIS law.

  2. Oh, and I love animals. I really do. But what I don’t understand is abortion. We’re enraged about animal cruelty and there’s public outcry. Go PETA! I believe in animal rights & protections. I also believe in the right of an unborn baby inside the womb of the woman God entrusted the most to love, care for, and protect that precious gift of human life. Don’t be be deceived. IT IS LIFE if it has even the POTENTIAL to grow into a baby. Let’s publicly outcry both. Let’s protect all life.

  3. The media blasts their agenda. They make it look like it’s the norm so they can influence all the dead fish to float downstream with them. But most people are still good God fearing people who believe in mercy and are pro life. They even believe in God. Only difference is, they aren’t being cast on the news media!!!! Hold on to your goodness and virtue people! You are NOT the minority. And you have God standing with you.

    Someone has to step up and say it! It might as well be me.😲

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
Picking Brains—Baring Bones—Paying it By Ears: I'm a reporter in Mendocino County and the Founder of MendoFever.

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