OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Federal investigators this week arrested a 45-year-old Oakland construction worker who links himself to the notorious Bey family in connection with an arson set at a construction site last month, court records indicate.
As of Thanksgiving day, Dustin Bellinger, who is self-employed and lives in Oakland, was still in Alameda County jail, with no bail allowed, records show. Efforts to speak to him or find his attorney on Thursday were not immediately successful. KTVU also messaged several of Bellinger's friends and family but got no response.
The U.S. Attorney's Office charged Bellinger with one count of maliciously damaging or destroying a building by means of fire or explosive device. The maximum penalty ranges from five years to 20 years in prison, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday. Authorities are linking Bellinger to the fire through a blood stain federal agents say they found at the site of the Hollis Street fire, documents show.
There have been at least nine blazes at East Bay construction sites since 2012. Bellinger is the only arrested for the one. No arrests have been made in any of the other fires.
Oakland city leaders said they were pleased with the arrest.
Mayor Libby Schaaf told KTVU on Thursday morning that she is "just relieved this person has been removed from a place he can do harm to others and we are holding someone accountable for this horrific crime. That's what gives me comfort this Thanksgiving. These large-scale fires were absolutely frightening."
She added that she hoped investigators would be able to determine if he is linked to any other arsons as well. As for his possible family connection? Schaaf said "we have to look at each individual as an individual. It doesn't matter who their family is."
In an email, councilwoman Lynette McElhaney said she was pleased that authorities were "very careful in their investigation and are not jumping to conclusions about whether or not this case is linked to others. It is critically important that we honor constitutional protections in our quest to bring perpetrators to account for their crimes."
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' criminal complaint also references Bellinger's Facebook and Instagram accounts, saying that he also goes by Faheem Bey.
"It's your brother Faheem," he said in the earlier post, while standing in a bathroom where he finished working on a tile job. "Check my work out. ....I'm just letting you know so you don't have to hire the Asian or the Mexican....Yo, hit a brother up, any time."
Bellinger was arrested Tuesday in connection with a small 3 a.m. fire on Oct. 23 at 3205 Hollis Street. Not much damage occurred at the Hollis Oak Apartments near Peralta Street. And firefighters at the time were perplexed as someone had broken a window to get into the site and left evidence, such as a hammer on the window sill and a red plastic gasoline container, behind. There was also a cigarette lighter and a white rag left on the ground.
An hour before on the same day, a much larger, five-alarm fire broke out at the eco-friendly townhome complex called the Ice House Residence 2 was raging nearby at West Grand Avenue and Filbert Street. That complex was also under construction and was being developed by City Ventures. ATF agents scoured that scene too and have so far not released any details about the cause of that massive blaze.
The criminal complaint written by ATF Special Agent Cynthia Chang also notes that Bellinger connected himself to the infamous Bey family who owned the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery.
In a prior court document from 2006, Bellingner had made reference to the fact that he was the 'brotha (to) Antar Bey, (Dr. Yusif Bey’s son).” Sources confirmed to the East Bay Times that Bellinger was linked to the Bey family. KTVU could not independently corroborate that ton Thursday.
In 2005, Antar Bey took control of the bakery, which was founded by his father, Yusef Bey, a former Oakland mayoral candidate. The elder Bey died in jail in 2003 awaiting child rape charges. His CEO, Waajid Aliawaad Bey, disappeared the following year and was found dead in a shallow grave in the Oakland Hills, an unsolved case. Antar Bey was shot and killed in North Oakland in October 2005, and the bakery was taken over by his younger brother, Yusef Bey IV.
Bey IV was convicted of masterminding the 2007 assassination of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey, who was writing a story about the bakery. Two other men were also convicted in Bailey's death.
Because Bellinger had been in prison before, serving an 11-year prison stint for kidnapping and a 9-year-stint for robbery, the state had his DNA.
Chang wrote in her complaint that a red smudge, possibly blood, left at the fire scene on Hollis Street came back on Nov. 2 with a hit that matched Bellinger. A rag stuffed into a gasoline container also had some of Bellinger's DNA mixed in, a biologist concluded, along with the profiles of two other people. The hammer turned up a hit on Nov. 6 for another person, whose name is redacted in court documents. And a black latex glove also came back with an unknown "single source DNA profile" with results still pending. The cigarette butt didn't match any DNA profiles in the system.
Investigators have been tracking Bellinger's social media accounts to piece some of the evidence together. ATF agents also noted that according to his Facebook page, Bellinger/Bey used to have long dreadlocks, but has since cut them and shaved his head. He also seems to go by the nickname of Dusty, court records indicate. The accounts list him as a construction worker and an Oakland Tech graduate.
Bellinger's arrest just might lead to others, prosecutors said in court documents.
Assistant US Attorney Elise Lapunzina urged the court to seal the case because she doesn't want to tip off any possible accomplices.
“This is an ongoing investigation into one of several arsons,” she wrote.