A disturbing picture is beginning to emerge about the troubled young man suspected of lighting dozens of arson fires in Los Angeles throughout the New Year's Eve weekend.
Harry Burkhart, a 24-year-old German man and the suspected LA arsonist, may have been protesting his mother's deportation when he started on a fire-bombing spree last Friday. Burkhart lived with her on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood until she was arrested last week. Her departure could have fanned the flames for someone who has been described by neighbors as "not completely normal" and whose outbursts made him a memorable figure for federal officials.
Trouble started for the pair after Burkhart's mother, Dorothee, was arrested by deputy U.S. marshals on Dec. 28 on a provisional arrest warrant from Germany, according to the Associated Press. The Los Angeles Times notes that she is now in federal custody in Los Angeles, and is due in court Tuesday afternoon.
Ordinarily, provisional arrest warrants are issued because of outstanding criminal warrants in other countries. While it isn't known what Dorothee is wanted for in Germany, she was facing deportation proceedings in the U.S. immediately before the first arson attacks struck Hollywood, according to ABC News.
In fact, it was Harry Burkhart's involvement in his mother's deportation proceedings that led to him being recognized by State Department staffers.
According to the Los Angeles Times, officials involved in the deportation case said that Burkhart had recently "erupted in a tirade, spewing angry anti-American statements" at his mother's hearing. The scene may have made him more memorable to the authorities who eventually contacted the LA Arson Task Force when they recognized him in an LAPD-released surveillance video of the arson suspect.
The identity tip led to a description of the car Burkhart would be driving (a blue Dodge minivan), which is what he was spotted in when a part-time reserve sheriff's deputy detained him early Monday morning.
During Burkhart's detention, he told authorities "I hate America," according to ABC News. He was arrested later that day and currently faces one count of arson. He is being held without bail.
In her court appearance on Tuesday, Dorothee Burkhart appeared distressed and asked often for her son, reports Hollywood Patch. The mother of the suspected arsonist called him "mentally ill" and brought up "German Nazis," although it's unclear how the Third Reich is related to her case.
Hollywood Patch has more on the charges Dorothee Burkhart faces in Germany:
A warrant for Dorothee Burkhart's arrest was issued in Germany in 2007, according to court papers.
She is accused of subletting apartments that she did not own, failing to pay rent and security deposits on other locations, and defrauding a Frankfurt cosmetic surgeon out of the equivalent of about $10,000 for breast augmentation surgery she never paid for, according to a provisional arrest warrant.
Dorothee Burkhart is set to be extradited to Germany, while her son Harry is due in Los Angeles court on Wednesday, reports the LA Times.
The LAPD had described the suspect in this video as a man with a light complexion and a ponytail hairstyle, wearing dark clothing. WATCH:
CORRECTION: This news story said that Dorothee Burkhart had already been deported when she is actually still in federal custody in Los Angeles.
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