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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has released an official statement on the arson attacks that have started more than 50 fires since Thursday.
“Over the past few days we have been faced with an ongoing series of arson fires committed by an individual with wanton disregard for the lives and property of Angelenos. Thankfully, there have been no lives lost to these criminal acts and only minor injuries to date,” Villaraigosa wrote on his Facebook page Monday.
“After another series of fires last night that brought the total to 54 since Friday, I am encouraged by the detainment this morning of a ‘person of interest’ in Hollywood,” he continued. “While the investigation continues, I am thankful for the ongoing and relentless effort by the LAFD, LAPD and other agencies to respond to these incidents and pursue every lead toward an arrest in the case. I also want to thank Angelenos for their vigilance these past few days and their patience as our public safety agencies worked under extremely challenging circumstances to not only handle the rash of arson fires, but to protect the rest of the City, as well, over the New Year Holiday.”
Earlier Monday, following a fresh spate of 11 attacks on parked cars and other property, LAPD arrested a person of interest for questioning in connection with the fires.
The suspect — detained near a drugstore at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Sunset Boulevard — was driving a mini-van with Canadian license plates. According to The Los Angeles Times, he is a native of Germany who appeared to be fighting the U.S. government over a relative’s immigration status. Inside the mini-van were materials that could be used to spark fires.
Following the arrest, TMZ captured video footage of a man sitting in a police car and sporting a ponytail.
His profile certainly matches the description of a person of interest pursued by the LAPD. The department released surveillance footage in a joint news conference with fire officials on Sunday afternoon showing a white male between 20 and 30 years old with a receding hairline — and ponytail. The video was captured at the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex, home to the Academy Awards venue Kodak Theatre, where a car caught fire on New Year’s Eve.
In an interview with CNN, Villaraigosa estimaged more than $2 million in damage had been done by the blazes. Police had offered a $60,000 reward for the capture of suspects related to the arson spree.
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