East Richmond Heights cancer patient victim of car bombing

East Richmond Heights’ cancer patient victim of car bombing
Photos contributed.

By Kathy Chouteau

An East Richmond Heights woman recovering from breast cancer-related surgery was the victim of a car bombing the early morning of Nov. 1 and is seeking help identifying the perpetrator.

Monica Fernandez was in bed early Sunday morning when she was awoken by two loud explosions and a car alarm. After checking on her 11-year-old daughter, Fernandez learned that her caregiver—ex-husband Jesse Arnold—also heard the disturbance. Soon after, she spotted a “streak of fire” underneath Arnold’s truck, and eventually discovered that her own vehicle was also on fire. 

“It was definitely something that I did not expect to see,” said Fernandez about the car fires. “I kind of have become accustomed to people and their fireworks, but there was this gut instinct that it was here and it was something I needed to go and tend to.”

Following an investigation, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District fire investigator informed Fernandez that a sophisticated, Molotov-style bomb had been found underneath her Honda Odyssey minivan close to the gas tank. Mechanical inspections revealed that the damage to Fernandez and Arnold’s vehicles is cosmetic and that they are still safe to drive.

Immediately following the incident, Arnold spoke with an unidentified female passerby who said she spotted a red, midsized car—possibly a Toyota Prius—pass by Fernandez’s house multiple times. She also observed a male throwing something at the vehicles and then proceed down Plymouth Avenue. A second person, a neighbor, shared security video footage of a red car by Fernandez’ house that coincides with what the unidentified female told Arnold.

Fernandez alleges she was targeted in the car bombing. She is currently involved in two court cases with her ex-boyfriend of seven years and his mother, who is also her landlord; one case pertains to alleged domestic violence, and the other, eviction. Fernandez said she has a contentious relationship with both mother and son and that her ex-boyfriend is currently being investigated for alleged involvement with the car bombing.

Fernandez is appealing to anyone with information or video footage of the incident, which occurred at approximately 5:05 a.m. outside her home at 6264 Plymouth Ave. in Richmond and damaged her minivan, her caregiver’s white Chevy truck and her neighbor’s vehicle. Anyone with video footage during the timeframe of 4:34 to 5:10 a.m. near Fernandez’s house, or who has any other pertinent information, is asked to contact Fire Investigator Kevin Brown at 925-941-3300, ext. 1129.

“If we can all just come together, if it’s not for me, at least for one another, [let’s] really just be vigilant [and] support one another,” said Fernandez in asking those with information to come forward.

Fernandez is currently recovering from surgery for a bilateral mastectomy, which took place Sept. 30.