Subject Starts Fire in Amtrak Lobby – Arrested for Arson
On October 21, 2021, around 9:20pm, the Santa Barbara Police Department received a report from an Amtrak employee about a subject that had just started a fire inside the Amtrak Station located at 209 State Street. The subject was still on scene and the employee reporting the incident provided a description of the individual to dispatchers.
Santa Barbara Police Officers, Santa Barbara City Fire Department, and Amtrak Police responded to the reported fire. Santa Barbara Police Officers and Amtrak Police Officers arrived on scene and the subject that started the fire was identified by an Amtrak employee. Officers immediately noticed a strong smell of smoke coming from the lobby of the Amtrak Station. It appeared the subject had used newspapers to start a fire in the non-operable fireplace located inside the passenger waiting area. An Amtrak employee used a fire extinguisher to put the flames out before the fire could spread.
The subject was identified as Lonniel Morgan, a 63-year-old transient. Morgan had just come to Santa Barbara on a previous Amtrak train earlier that morning.
A witness who observed this incident stated they observed Morgan standing in front of the fire and appeared to be warming himself. There were numerous passengers in the lobby when smoke started billowing out of the non-operable fireplace and filling the station before being extinguished by an Amtrak employee. This witness also positively identified Morgan as the subject that started the fire.
Morgan was placed under arrest and booked in Santa Barbara County jail for Arson (felony), and Arson During a State of Emergency (felony). He is being held on $350,000 bail.