VISALIA — A College of the Sequoias student has been taken into custody for allegedly starting 11 fires in men’s restrooms throughout the school’s Visalia Campus, school officials said.
Around 11:40 a.m. on Monday, COS officials said a fire was reported in the men’s restroom of the Sierra building on the Visalia campus. Shortly after, they said a second fire was reported in the nearby Sequoia building, again in the men’s restroom.
Officials said the Visalia Fire Department responded along with the COS District Police and college staff. Approximately 1 1/2 hours later, they said three similar fires were reported in other building restrooms on campus, resulting in another response by the Visalia Fire Department.
Three additional fires were reported after 3 p.m., totaling nine fires on campus by 6:30 p.m., officials said.
Around 11:35 a.m. on Tuesday, school officials said fires were reported again in the Sierra and Sequoia buildings at almost exactly the same time as the previous day. Witnesses at both scenes reported seeing a subject leaving the scenes wearing a distinctive backpack.
The subject, 20-year-old COS student Josiah Banks, was located near the scene and was interviewed regarding the incidents. Based on his statements, officials said Banks was taken into custody for multiple counts of arson.
According to a press release from the school, Banks was booked at the Tulare County Pre-Trial Facility with bail set at $50,000 pending arraignment.
COS officials said the case will be referred to the Tulare County District Attorney's Office for review.