Anti-American Sentiments Fueled Los Angeles Arsonists' Spree
An investigator in the case cites Harry Burkhart "rage" against the people of Los Angeles in the wake of the German citizen's Wednesday arrest.
Investigators have delivered their conclusions on what may have motivated Harry Burkhart, the 24-year-old German citizen charged with 37 counts of arson, to go on a three-day fire-starting spree around Los Angeles.
Court documents in the case against Burkhart, who caused an estimated $3 million in damage, point to anti-American sentiments as what prompted him to set more than 50 fires, reports Reuters.
"It is my opinion that the defendant's criminal spree was motivated by his rage against Americans," wrote police arson investigator Edward Nordskog in court papers. "By setting these fires, (the) defendant intended to harm and terrorize as many residents of the city and county of Los Angeles as possible."
Burkhart, currently held on $2.85 million, is under suspicion of previously burning down his own home in Germany. Additionally, police found newspaper clippings of fires around Frankfurt -- and of the L.A. fires -- hoarded in his Hollywood apartment.
"He is accused of serious arson and suspected fraud," said German state prosecutor Annemarie Wied. "In the early hours of October 14, a timbered house went on fire in the Schwalm-Eder district and this person came under suspicion."
Burkhart's mother, Dorothee Burkhart, has already been charged with 19 counts of fraud and extortion. The current Los Angeles resident appeared in court the day after her son's arrest as a part of ongoing proceedings to determine whether she'll be deported.
Reportedly behaving erratically herself, Burkhart's mother said that her son was mentally ill.
The Los Angeles County jail where Burkhart has been detained currently has him on suicide watch, and though investigators couldn't comment on what prompted his "rage" against Americans, they did point to an earlier display of his anger.
Additional court documents say Harry Burckhart was reportedly ejected from a L.A. courtroom during his mother's Dec. 29 extradition proceedings after shouting profanities against Americans.