UPDATE: Suspect Identified in Connection With Arson Fires [VIDEO]

Man is taken into custody on Sunset Boulevard early Monday following another rash of morning fires.

UPDATE: Law enforcement officials have identified the suspect in the string of arson fires as Harry Burkhart, 24, a German national.

The suspect's identity was released at a downtown Los Angeles news conference Monday evening. []



Police early Monday arrested a man suspected of setting 53 arson fires in and around Hollywood, West Hollywood and North Hollywood over the weekend.

The suspect, reportedly a German citizen upset that his mother was deported, allegedly set 11 fires between midnight and the time he was arrested about 3 a.m. at Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jaime Moore said.

At a noon news conference, Moore said the suspect, whose name was being withheld, was stopped because he looked like a man seen on video at the scene of several fires. Police released video of the suspect Sunday night.

The methods used to start the fires early Monday were similar to those in the earlier fires, Moore said. Most were set in cars that were sitting in carports—a situation that lends itself to maximizing property damage. Seven were set in North Hollywood and two each in Hollywood proper and West Hollywood, he said.

Although no one was seriously injured, someone was given oxygen after breathing some smoke and a firefighter suffered an unspecified minor injury, Moore said.

Property damage totals were in the $2 million range, Moore said.

It was unclear why it would take so long to book the suspect on suspicion of arson, but Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andy Smith, speaking at the noon news conference, said the booking had not yet been completed.

"We're going to release information on the suspect as soon as he's booked,'' Smith said.

Another news conference is set for 6:15 p.m. Monday at a downtown-area fire station.

released Sunday showed the suspect coming out of an underground garage on Hollywood Boulevard between Orange Drive and Sycamore Avenue.

According to broadcast reports, the suspect has been variously dubbed "Meatloaf-Segall" because he slightly resembles the portly rock 'n' roll singer who goes by Meatloaf and "Segall" because he wears his hair in a ponytail like the actor and martial arts specialist.

Video of the suspect being taken into custody showed a white man with his hair in a ponytail. The minivan he was driving reportedly had Canadian license plates from British Columbia.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday morning that he was confident an arsonist suspected of setting dozens of fires over the past three days was off the streets.

"I feel very good that we've got the right guy," Beck told City News Service shortly before he began riding with an LAPD equestrian unit in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. "[The suspect] had the right stuff in his van, and we are very confident we found our man."

Among the structures damaged or destroyed was a home in the hills where Jim Morrison supposedly wrote the song "Love Street." A car fire spread to the house, gutting it.

LAPD Cmdr. Mike Moriarty confirmed Monday what the surveillance video released Sunday night showed—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.

Wendy January 04, 2012 at 03:48 AM
He is a sick man in need of medication. Turns out that his Mother from Russia was being deported for being a scammer in Germany. He may not have been getting the care he needed and was on his own which resulted in him not taking his meds for his pyschiatric condition. He may have needed her. Can you imagine how scary that must have been to be in his shoes. He probably set some fires but a fire bug will set off a chain reaction with other fire bugs. Don't stick words in my mouth either. I have some medical training by the way. I can take one look at that grainy photo and tell what kind of medication is most likely taking by the shape of his face and expression. Just like when a car pulls up to you at your muffler shop and you can tell that is needs a new tailpipe. There are different levels of expertise on the patch:) I am proud of my swift medical diagnosis. Turns out this afternoon after my post that the mother confirms his mental illness. If you listen to me you might learn something.
Rudolf Martin January 04, 2012 at 04:11 AM
haha, allright wendy, i won't dispute your expertise but i really don't think I put words in your mouth. i agree that (guilty or not) he certainly seems like a very sick man. although the threshold for legal insanity is higher.
me January 04, 2012 at 07:37 PM
OMG, the fire bug isn't the only crazy one!!!!....won't put her name in my comment for fear of being flagged :-)
Brian Hamilton January 04, 2012 at 08:18 PM
She's cuckoo-for-Coco Puffs
Rachel January 21, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Under Cal. Penal Code § 451.5 (aggravated arson), both of the arsonists (in December and July of 2011, respectively) are facing 10 years to life with no possibility of parole within ten years. Given the number of inhabited dwellings set on fire, each arsonist potentially faces the stiffer end of this sentencing guideline.


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