Runyon Canyon News
A 24-year-old man suspected of setting dozens of fires across Los Angeles on New Year’s weekend was charged Wednesday with 37 felony counts related to arson.
Harry Burkhart, a German national who lives in Hollywood, was charged by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office with 28 counts of arson of property and nine counts of arson of an inhabited structure.
He made a brief court appearance Wednesday in which he repeatedly stood up, sat down and slumped his neck back as sheriff’s deputies held him, but his arraignment was postponed to Jan. 24.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Upinder S. Kalra ordered Burkhart to remain jailed in lieu of $2.85 million bail and to surrender his passport, but declined Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney’s request to order Burkhart to be held without bail.
Burkhart was found Monday on Sunset Boulevard near Fairfax Avenue by a reserve sheriff’s deputy who spotted his minivan. Police said fire-starting materials were found inside the vehicle. According to sheriff’s investigator Edward M. Nordskog’s investigation, a search of Burkhart’s residence after his arrest turned up copies of Los Angeles Times articles about the fires, along with articles from Germany about similar car fires in Frankfurt last year.
The charges filed Wednesday relate to 12 fires that were set in Hollywood, West Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, said District Attorney Steve Cooley. The criminal complaint also includes an allegation that an accelerant was used to start the fires. More charges may be filed. Cooley noted that the investigation in the 52 fires is “not over.”
“We anticipate filing additional charges by the time of the defendant’s arraignment,” Cooley told reporters at a news conference. “As Sean Carney … stated in court, a campaign of terror has ended and that was with the arrest of Harry Burkhart,” Cooley said.
“I think the bail deviation (declaration) that we filed set forth a sense that this particular individual was set off by the incarceration of his mother, with whom he appears to be quite close, and he had latent anti-American views,” the district attorney said. “That combination apparently set him off on this binge.”
In many instances, fires started in carports that spread quickly to adjoining apartment buildings. The property damage resulting from the fires has been estimated at $3 million. One firefighter and a civilian suffered relatively minor injuries. So far, the fires have stopped following Burkhart’s arrest.
Investigators said an obscenity-laced outburst Burkhart let loose at an extradition hearing for his mother on Dec. 29 helped lead to his capture. When images of “a person of interest” emerged Sunday in connection with the arson fires, a law enforcement officer who had witnessed the outburst reportedly recognized Burkhart and gave local authorities his name, according to the DA’s office…Read the Rest of This Article