Indictment: Accused Hollywood arsonist tried to burn down 46 buildings

Indictment: Accused Hollywood arsonist tried to burn down 46 buildings
Arson suspect Harry Burkhart, 24. (OnScene TV)

During a four-day rampage, Hollywood arson suspect Harry Burkhart set fire to or attempted to burn 46 buildings, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed Monday.

Burkhart is accused of torching cars, garages and homes in Hollywood, West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley between Dec. 30, 2011, and Jan. 2, 2012, according to the indictment.


Prosecutors alleged that the 24-year-old Burkhart, a German national who was born in Chechnya, was "motivated by his rage against Americans." To create as much fear as possible, he set the fires under the cover of darkness, prosecutors added.

The 49-count indictment for arson, arson of inhabited buildings and possession of flammable materials was approved by the grand jury on March 11.

Burkhart has previously pleaded not guilty and is being held in lieu of $7.5-million bail. He has been in custody for more than two years.

At the time of the alleged arson spree, Burkhart was already suspected of burning down his family home in Germany's Schwalm-Eder district, north of Frankfurt.

His mother, Dorothee, had escaped from handcuffs while in German custody on fraud allegations and fled with her son to Canada before entering the United States. Authorities captured her in Los Angeles.

Her extradition proceedings would eventually lead to her son's arrest in connection with the blazes. During the hearing, Louis Flores of the U.S. Marshal's Service saw Burkhart go on an anti-American tirade.

Flores would later recognize Burkhart in the security video from the scene of the one of the fires.

Burkhart was arrested near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue after he was seen driving a van matching one described by Flores and a colleague.

Among the key evidence against Burkhart is security footage from the building where the German Consulate is located. After his mother was jailed in L.A. on a German criminal warrant, Burkhart visited the consulate.

As he walked down a hallway inside the Wilshire Boulevard building, he placed a fire-starting device on the floor. A security guard spotted the device and, after inspecting it, snapped a photo of it.

That photo is now considered a key piece of evidence linking the Burkhart to the arson rampage, according to law enforcement sources who described the scene at the consulate.

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