A 24-year-old German national has been arrested in connection with 52 arsons in Los Angeles over the weekend, a case that may have a link to Canada.
Police picked up Harry Burkhart, a Hollywood resident, around 2:50 a.m. Monday after a sharp-eyed officer recognized the vehicle he was driving as one wanted in the case. Television news footage of the arrest showed a minivan, purportedly the vehicle in question, with British Columbia licence plates.
It also showed a heavyset man with a ponytail, who resembled security-camera footage of a person walking near the car park of the Hollywood and Highland shopping centre around the time it was hit by an arsonist Saturday night.
Officers would not say what connection, if any, their suspect has to Canada. They indicated he is from Frankfurt, Germany but do not know when he arrived in the United States.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department records listed Mr. Burkhart's date of birth as July 12, 1987 and described him as having brown hair and eyes, standing 5-feet-10-inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. He is being held without bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. An appearance at Van Nuys court house is set for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
Vancouver court documents showed a man with the same name and year of birth was charged with a traffic offence two years ago, but it was not clear if he was the same individual arrested in California.
The Los Angeles Times, citing anonymous law enforcement sources, said Mr. Burkhart was locked in a battle with authorities in the U.S. over his mother's immigration case. Police said a tip from a federal officer who recognized Mr. Burkhart in the surveillance video had helped crack the case.
The fires began early Friday morning, and primarily targeted vehicles in parking garages, leaving cars as burnt-out wrecks and blackening apartment buildings across Hollywood, West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. The last of the blazes was set shortly before Mr. Burkhart's arrest early Monday. In total, they caused an estimated $3-million in damages.
One member of the public was hurt in the fires, as was a firefighter. No one was killed.
Two other people were arrested in a different series of arsons last week.