Every now and then, fandom makes the news in ways we wish it wouldn’t. Today’s bit of unpleasantness is the arrest of a Riverside cosplayer on suspicion of arson. If this security footage is any indication, arsonist suspect
Matthew Masumi Toyotome, age 27, poured gasoline a car belonging to fellow cosplayer Julia Moreno Jenkins (whom he had been stalking) and set it on fire. The resulting blaze destroyed not only that car, but six others. Toyotome was arrested at his home on Sunday, based on his being recognized in this surveillance footage.
The incident took place early on Sunday morning, just before 2am, in the parking lot of the Azure Hotel & Suites in Ontario, California. The night security officer for the hotel told ABC News that surveillance footage “showed a man walk up to the main vehicle, pour two cans of gasoline all over it and then [flicked] a match on it”.
That car belonged to cosplayer Julia Moreno Jenkins, who says her vehicle was “targeted and set on fire by an obsessed stalker”. Once it was in flames, the fire then spread to nearby cars. As a precaution, the hotel was evacuated.
“I had not heard of anything he was doing until this past weekend when I saw him at the (convention) and then learned he was the one who set my car on fire,” said Moreno Jenkins. She and her boyfriend were able to identify Toyotome through surveillance footage, police said.
According to Moreno Jenkins, also of Riverside, she and Toyotome were part of an armored Power Rangers group where Toyotome dressed as the Yellow Ranger. Jenkins portrayed the Pink Ranger.
Toyotome allegedly made unwanted advances toward her, which led to Moreno Jenkins ending the friendship, she said.
The interactions between the two became so strained, she blocked him from her social media accounts.
The Anime Los Angeles convention was being held at the Ontario Convention Centre, and the Azure is one of the “official” hotel partners of the con, and packed with guests attending the con.
There is a GoFundMe page to help Ms. Jenkins cover the costs of replacing her car.