Feds Feted for Helping Solve LA Arson Case

Two federal officers are honored for helping provide a local arson task force with key information that led to the arrest of Harry Burkhart in connection with last week's arson fires.

By Jason Kandel
|  Thursday, Jan 5, 2012  |  Updated 3:30 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Man Charged in Arson Spree

Deputy U.S. Marshal Luis Flores, left, and U.S. State Department Special Agent Jonathan Lamb were honored on Thursday for their information that led to the arrest of the LA arson suspect, Harry Burkhart.

Photos and Videos

Legal Problems for Mother of Arson Suspect

The mother of the LA arson suspect was the subject of a provisional arrest request by German authorities.

Man Charged in Arson Spree

Harry Burkhart, the man charged with the arson spree over the New Year's weekend, was arraigned and charged with 37 counts. Beverly White has details.
More Photos and Videos

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday honored two federal agents whose information about a man wanted in a series of Los Angeles-area arsons led to the break in a case that “terrorized” the city.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Luis Flores and U.S. State Department Special Agent Jonathan Lamb had been investigating a man who had fled Germany when a series of more than 50 arson fires broke out across Los Angeles beginning Dec. 30.

Criminal Complaint: Dorothee Burkhart Fraud Case

The officers contacted investigators in L.A. who were probing the string of arsons and identified the suspect as Harry Burkhart. The federal officers also gave arson task force investigators information about Burkhart’s vehicle and his residence.

“The city couldn’t be more thankful and grateful for your work in helping to identify the suspected arsonist and putting an end to fires that were, frankly, creating a terror in our community,” Villaraigosa said after a Thursday press conference.

Burkhart has been charged in the arsons that caused millions of dollars in property damage. He was being held on nearly $3 million bail, awaiting an arraignment hearing Jan. 24 to answer to the charges.

Burkhart, a 24-year-old German man, is believed to have used accelerant to light 52 fires that started on vehicles and spread to carports and nearby structures and spanned across Los Angeles.

Authorities say Burkhart became enraged at the U.S. government because his mother, Dorothee, faced deportation from the country after she allegedly failed to pay a Frankfurt, Germany, clinic for breast augmentation surgery and bilked renters out of their security deposits.

Investigators in the fraud case recognized the man seen in surveillance video that was released Sunday by investigators in the arson case. That tip from federal authorities led local authorities to Burkhart, who was arrested early Monday morning after a traffic stop initiated by a reserve sheriff's deputy at Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue.

It was an outburst at a hearing in his mother's case -- she was arrested Dec. 28 by deputy U.S. Marshals and LA police on a provisional arrest warrant requested by German authorities -- that caught the attention of authorities. An officer who witnessed the court outburst reportedly recognized Burkhart in the surveillance video, which shows a man walking from an underground parking structures in Hollywood.

Burkhart also is under investigation in connection with a 2011 house fire in Germany, the Associated Press reported.


View Hollywood Area Arson Fires Map in a larger map

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

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Running Dry
Coverage of the California drought. Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out