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L.A. Arsonist

Person of Interest Detained

1/2/2012 9:20 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

0102_arson_video_big_ex_tmzLASD officers swarmed and handcuffed what they described as a "person of interest" in the Los Angeles arsonist spree that has left thousands of residents scared out of their wits for days.

Fire officials say "it is too early to speculate" if this is the person responsible for the fires.

Police have already released surveillance video showing the alleged suspect -- a ponytailed Steven Seagal lookalike (below). As you can see in our video ... the man in custody sports a ponytail



Cops previously said 39 fires could be linked to the recent rash of arsons ... and another 11 were reportedly set last night.

It's not 100% clear from the footage -- but several witnesses confirm what appears to be a creepy smile on the man's face as he sat in the back of the squad car (below).

0102_thesmile_tmz_wm2
update_bar
6:19 PM PT: The man has been identified as 24-year-old Harry Burkhart, a Hollywood resident. During a news conference moments ago, Mayor Villaraigosa said Burkhart is currently being held without bail.

According to Villaraigosa, the arson fires that ravaged Hollywood the last 4 days -- over 50 in total -- have caused over $3 million in damage.

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca said, "The serial arsonist, I believe, has been caught" -- but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck pointed out ... it's still unclear if the arson fires were a one-man operation.

12:10 PM PT
: Police say the man has been arrested and is currently being booked.

9:32 AM PT: Riding in an equestrian unit this morning at the Rose Parade, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said, "We are we are very confident we found our man."

8:13 AM PT: Police say fire-starting materials were found in the man's van, which displayed Canadian license plates. According to reports, the materials include charcoal.

0102_thevan_tmz_wm2
8:00 AM PT: There are reports the man may be a German national, who is angry that his mother is being deported from the US. An immigration agent helped identify him.

57 COMMENTS

No Avatar
31.

Ronald Jensen    

The guy should have had his mom sneak into Mexico then come back. Immigration laws seemingly do not apply if you sneak into this country from Mexico.

964 days ago
32.

Utahn    

It''s so obvious from the photo who it is: Chaz Bono, shame on you!

964 days ago
33.

Kelly    

Omg. Is that Steven Seagal?!!!! LOL!

964 days ago
34.

She's baaaack    

No matter who he is or what he looks like I hope it is him doing all that torching. That behavior always escalates and if it continues someone dies. Never fails. I hope that's the guy.

964 days ago
35.

concernedTP    

seriously.. that's the quality of surveillance camera's being used for that area???
utter crap.. Do the owners not realize an iphone 4s is probably 15 times better roughly.
come on people, put some invest into better surveillance cameras.

964 days ago
36.

PG    

I wouldn't be surprised if TMZ paid this guy to set the fires to gain hits to their site. TMZ is getting more pathetic than the KockROACHians.

964 days ago
37.

Moonbeam    

Maybe if his mother had been working as one of the many illegal alien nannies in west L.A. nobody would have bothered her. I guess you get deported unless you're busy saving well-to-do Americans thousands of dollars in child care, housekeeping and cooking.

964 days ago
38.

Moonbeam    

It was nice to see law enforcement thank the media for its assistance in capturing the arsonist.

964 days ago
39.

patty    

thank god this has been going on for sooo long - he set so many fires in north holywood, the fire department couldn't keep up- no reason - just some crazy guy, was afraid they wouldn't catch him

964 days ago
40.

Freda_67    

I'd like to slap that smirk off his face, too bad he didn't set himself on fire.

964 days ago
41.

zeppy2827    

this guy is a real ********. They should torch his vehicle and let him watch it. See how he likes it. And then give him the key to the vehicle and say to him why don't you take it for a cruise now Holmes. In an burn him up. That's messed up how somebody goes around like cars on fire. And you don't even know this person.

964 days ago
42.

tellmeaboutit     

Not quite sure how this is celebrity justice, but I hope he's the right guy, 'cause whoever was doing this stuff caused a whole lot of damage.

And I was looking for his "creepy smile," but had trouble seeing it or his face because of the thousand TMZ logos all over it. Damn, tmz, I know you want to mark your territory, but even dogs only pee on a tree, not chew it down!!

964 days ago
43.

Fat Mike    

Looks like it's him, there's been no more since he was locked up.
He's very very lucky not to be up on murder charges. How no-one died amazes me.
I hope the property owners and insurance companies chase him for damages. That will hurt more than the short jail sentence he's sure to serve.

964 days ago
44.

Cujeaux    

Shut down the Canadian border and keep these nutcases up there where they belong.

963 days ago
45.

nancor555    

White American burning up 3 Million dollars worth of stuff. Nothing new here.

963 days ago
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