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Police apprehend suspect who tried to ignite propane tanks
Turlock man facing six counts of attempted homicide
Joseph Tosta

A Turlock man who had been wanted by local law enforcement on attempted murder charges after he tried to set several propane tanks on fire has been located and taken into custody.

Joseph Tosta, 36, was wanted in connection to the Feb. 25 incident that police say was an attempt to kill a houseful of occupants by igniting the neighboring propane tanks.

The incident began on the night of Feb. 24 with a domestic disturbance in the 100 block of W. Syracuse Avenue and continued into Feb. 25. Tosta had been asked to leave the residence by his girlfriend, who resided there with five other people. Tosta returned to the residence on the morning of Feb. 25, but was not allowed entrance into the home and became angry with the occupants, and threatened to burn the house down, said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis.

Tosta reportedly gained entry to a Souza Propane storage yard that is adjacent to the residence and opened 10 propane tanks that are capable of holding 250 or more galloons of propane. According to the police report, Tosta attempted to light the tanks on fire by igniting a piece of cardboard with matches, however his efforts were unsuccessful.

Mark Souza, of Souza Propane, said the propane tanks that are stored at that facility are empty.

Tosta had fled the area before police and the Turlock Fire Department arrived.

A warrant was obtained for Tosta’s arrest. On Saturday afternoon a Turlock Police officer spotted him in the 900 block of Pioneer Avenue. Tosta attempted to escape arrest by running from the officer, but he was eventually apprehended in a field in the 900 block of N. Olive Avenue, Lewis said.

Tosta was booked into Stanislaus County Jail on six counts of attempted homicide. He also was booked on charges of aggravated arson, arson with a prior conviction of arson, arson with the use of an accelerant, and making criminal threats. Tosta also has current charges of auto theft and possession of a stolen vehicle pending against him, according to Stanislaus County Superior Court records. His prior arson conviction came from an arrest and a no contest plea in 2011.

Tosta is currently being held in custody in lieu of a $525,000 bail.