Suspect in 53 Arsons Identified

"I feel very good that we've got the right guy,'' said Police Chief Charlie Beck

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    A 24-year-old man is in custody in connection with a string of more than 50 arson fires that targeted mostly cars in Hollywood, West Hollywood and the eastern San Fernando Valley.

    Police arrested a man Monday in connection with a series of arson fires that have caused millions of dollars of property damage in the Los Angeles area.

    Harry Burkhart, 24, was booked on suspicion of arson of an inhabited dwelling. He is being held without bail at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, according to sheriffs booking records.

    While the investigation remains ongoing, reports have surfaced that Burkhart. a German national,  may have been upset over his mother's potential deportation.

    New Details on L.A. Arson Suspect

    [LA] New Details on L.A. Arson Suspect
    Neighbors and associates who had contact with Harry Burkhart speak out, as police investigate a possible motive for arson.

    "I feel very good that we've got the right guy,'' said Police Chief Charlie Beck. "(The suspect) had the right stuff in his van, and we are very confident we found our man.''

    Arson Safety Information: LAFD

    Suspect Arrested in Carport Fires

    [LA] Suspect Arrested in Carport Fires
    Authorities arrested a suspect early Monday in connection with a series of fires that have burned vehicles and carports in Hollywood, West Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley and other areas.

    A total of 53 fires have been reported since Thursday. Eleven fires were reported Monday morning alone -- nine in the city of Los Angeles and two in West Hollywood.

    A deputy reserve sheriff made the initial traffic stop that led to the arrest of the suspect. Materials that could have been used to set fires were found by detectives inside the suspect's minivan, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    The part-time peace officer said two LAPD officers pulled in behind him to aid in the suspect's detention.

    A citywide tactical alert was canceled after the last of the early morning fires were put out about 3:30 a.m. Teams of fire trucks dashed from fire to fire to quickly douse the flames.

    Overnight, fires were reported in the 1700 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Hollywood; the 8500 block Eastwood Road, Hollywood Hills; the 4300 block of North Greenbush Avenue and 15000 block of Moorpark Street, Sherman Oaks; and the 500 block of Alfred Street, West Hollywood.

    A joint arson task force comprised of LA City Fire, LA County Sheriffs, LA County Fire, LAPD, the District Attorney's office, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms worked around the clock to investigate over a hundred clues and interview hundreds of witnesses, Moore said.

    On Sunday evening, authorities released surveillance video in connection with the case. A man shown walking on the video was called a person of interest.

    In the video, the suspect emerges from an underground parking structure on Hollywood Boulevard between Orange Drive and Sycamore Avenue.

    LAPD Cmdr. Mike Moriarty confirmed Monday that the suspect was at the scene of several arson fires.

    Police said an arson arrest made about 1:30 a.m. Thursday was unrelated to later fires.

    Los Angeles police arrested Samuel Arrington, 22, of Sun Valley, near La Brea Avenue and Sunset Boulevard for allegedly setting a fire in a garbage can outside a 7-Eleven and trying to ignite a fuel tank on a truck, police said. He is also suspected in a 1:12 a.m. Thursday trash bin fire at 1444 Poinsettia Place and a carport fire at 1434 Fuller Ave., where four vehicles and an apartment were damaged, firefighters said last week.

    Arrington was jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail.

    The arsonist who set fires later Friday and over the weekend is believed to have set at least five more fires on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, before being arrested.

    On Thursday and Friday, at least 17 cars or small trucks were torched south of the Hollywood Hills, in Hollywood proper and in West Hollywood.      

    Meanwhile, officials urged the public to remain vigilant while the investigation continues.  

    "Maintain a watch on your property," said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith. "If you have lights in your carport, keep them on tonight. Keep an eye on your neighbor's property as well."

    The fires have caused nearly $2 million in damages to vehicles and structures but no one has been hurt.

    A reward of $60,000 was being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

    Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: Twitter: @NBCLA // Facebook: NBCLA


    View Hollywood Area Arson Fires Map in a larger map