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Police release images of suspect in LA arson spree

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, January 2, 2012 7:34 EDT
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Burned down cars in Los Angeles. Image via AFP.
 
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Los Angeles police released security camera images of a man suspected over a spree of arson attacks that kept Hollywood on edge over the New Year.

The LA Police Department (LAPD) has also asked residents to leave their porch and car port lights on overnight, after some 40 fires were set over three nights including New Year’s Eve.

The suspect — caught on camera after a blaze in a parking lot near Hollywood’s main tourist area — is believed to be in his late 20s to early 30s, has a receding hairline and dark hair worn in a ponytail, police said.

Federal investigators have been called in to help the LAPD and theLA Fire Department (LAFD) probe the string of arson attacks, one of the worst sprees in the city since the 1992 race riots.

Seven new fires were reported on New Year’s Eve, including one in an underground parking lot near the heart of Tinsel Town’s tourist district, the LAFD said.

Amateur video published by the LA Times newspaper caught the blaze in the basement of the Hollywood and Highland center, near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where tourists flock to see celebrity handprints and the Walk of Fame stars.

Video and still camera images released late Sunday show the suspect, dressed all in black, coming out of the parking lot.

Witnesses and other video footage indicate the man was at several of the locations where arson fires were set, said Los Angeles Police Commander Mike Moriarty, who said it was believed there were at least two arsonists.

One suspect has already been arrested, police said: a 22-year-old man, Samuel Arrington, charged with starting three fires on Thursday. But he was behind bars overnight Friday and Saturday when new blazes were set.

More than 30 fires were started overnight Thursday and Friday, mostly targeting cars either outside homes on in car ports under buildings, which then caught alight. No serious injuries have so far been reported.

Damaged property included a Hollywood Hills home where singer Jim Morrison of The Doors — whose hits include “Light My Fire” — once lived, and where he wrote the legendary band’s “Love Street.”

LAPD Commander Andrew Smith urged residents to keep their porch and garage lights on at night and report any suspicious activity to help police catch the culprits responsible for the arson spree.

City and county officials, along with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF), have posted a reward of $60,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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