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Turlock landlord charged with arson, attempted murder of tenants
george nazar
George Nazar

A dispute between a Turlock landlord and his tenants erupted into a fiery encounter Sunday as the tenants watched helplessly as their home burned and the landlord was arrested on multiple charges, including attempted murder and arson.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department suspects the landlord, George Nazar, 51, set the travel trailer in the 400 block of Verduga Road on fire while it was still occupied by three adults. The residents were able to escape the fire without injury.

Nazar has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, arson, aggravated arson and possession of a flammable material with intent to use maliciously. He remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail on a $500,000 bail.

The same property on Verduga was the scene of a fatal shooting in 2012, when William Nazar, George Nazar’s brother, was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy after barricading himself in the home and shooting at deputies.

Just before 11 a.m. Sunday the sheriff’s department received a call of a disturbance at the property. Within minutes of the call the Denair Fire Department was dispatched to the scene for a report of a fire.

Fire fighters were kept off the property because deputies had been told Nazar was armed and shots had been fired. The sheriff’s department later stated the reports of shots fired by Nazar were unfounded.

Neighbor Rachel Kenney said she heard what sounded like ammunition exploding from the trailer.

The fire burned largely unchecked through the trailer and a nearby outbuilding. The sheriff’s department has not released information as to how the fire was started.

As the fire burned Nazar locked himself inside his home and refused to comply with the deputies’ orders. Deputies spoke with Nazar over the phone and after about an hour convinced him to surrender.

Nazar was not armed at the time of his arrest. Detectives searched his home after he was taken into custody, but the sheriff’s department is not releasing what, if anything, was found in the home.

Kenney said a pickup truck in a field adjacent to Nazar’s home had guns inside it. She witnessed sheriff’s deputies remove multiple firearms from the back of the truck bed, which had been covered over with wood planks.

Nazar and the three adults were involved in a landlord-tenant dispute, but the exact nature of the dispute was not released by the sheriff’s department.

The neighborhood remained on lockdown for several hours during the incident.

The Red Cross is assisting the three adults displaced by the fire.