Court official ID'd Hollywood arsonist Harry Burkhart

Jan. 3, 2012 at 7:00 PM
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HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Police were tipped off to the identity of the alleged Los Angeles arsonist by an official who saw Harry Burkhart have an outburst in immigration court.

Burkhart, a 24-year-old German national arrested Monday in the string of at least 50 fires deliberately set between Friday and Monday, was recently present for a case regarding his mother when he erupted, shouting anti-American statements in court, the Los Angeles Times reported.

An official involved in the case recognized Burkhart in images police released from a surveillance tape after a car fire at the Hollywood & Highland shopping center. The official put Burkhart's name to the face for police.

When Burkhart's minivan was identified, police set up a roadblock on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. At 3 a.m., the vehicle was spotted in West Hollywood. When officers pulled it over, they found Burkhart along with fire starter packs in the car.

"He had the right stuff in his van and I am confident in the arrest," Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck told the Times.

Burkhart's mother, Dorothee Burkhart, who was in federal court Tuesday for a hearing regarding a German criminal warrant that could result in her deportation, made repeated requests to see her son, the Times said.

"Where is my son?" she asked U.S. marshals and others nearby. "He should come into the court. … Somebody take decision if my son can come in or [not]."

"Can you bring my son inside, please," she asked at another point.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for federal prosecutors, said he could not provide details of the allegations against her because the warrant was sealed. She was arrested Thursday, the day before the arson spree started.

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