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L.A. arson suspect 'not completely normal,' neighbor says

January 3, 2012 |  8:03 am

Harry Burkhart

The suspect in a string of Los Angeles arson attacks lived in the Hollywood neighborhood that was the epicenter for the four days of fires.

Map shows locations of fires possibly linked to recent arson spree. Credit: Los Angeles TimesInvestigators on Monday searched the home on the 7200 block of West Sunset Boulevard where suspect Harry Burkhart apparently lived with his mother.

One neighbor told KCBS-TV that Burkhart acted strangely and had been angry that U.S. officials were trying to deport his mother.

MAP: Southland arsons

Galina Larinova told the station she talked to Burkhart on Sunday and that he told her his mother was no longer living with him. Larinova, speaking through a Russian translator, said he was "not completely normal."

Shlomo Elady, a 44-year-old hairstylist, works on the first floor of the building at Le Figaro Hairstyling. He said he had cut Burkhart's hair for more than a year and that he saw Burkhart leave the building each morning and return late at night. He said he did not know if Burkhart had a job.

"I cut his hair just a week and a half ago," Elady told The Times. "I'm in shock. He’s my client. I never saw any sign of trouble."

PHOTOS: Arson fires

A reserve sheriff's deputy arrested Burkhart early Monday after an immigration court official recognized the suspect from an earlier court case and alerted authorities, providing a key break in the investigation.

TV footage showed Burkhart after his arrest, dressed in black, wearing his hair in a ponytail and grinning.

Investigators are trying to determine whether other people were involved in the arson rampage that had parts of the city on edge for four days. Burkhart has been booked on suspicion of arson but not charged by L.A. prosecutors.

Since Friday morning, at least 50 fires were set, mostly in the Hollywood area, but also on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley. Many of the blazes were in carports and driveways, and spread to apartment buildings and homes.


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Photo: Harry Burkhart is arrested Monday morning. Credit: KTLA News

Image: A map shows the locations of fires possibly linked to the recent arson spree. Credit: Los Angeles Times