O.C. man suspected of burning flags outside Long Beach homes pleads not guilty

Homes along Iroquois Avenue in Long Beach.
Iroquois Avenue in Long Beach.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

An Orange County man accused of setting fire to flags in front of several homes last week in East Long Beach has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of arson.

John Leo Meylor, 35, of Laguna Niguel, was charged with one count of felony arson of an inhabited structure and 14 additional counts of arson of property, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He appeared in Long Beach Superior Court on Monday.

He was booked Thursday into the Long Beach City Jail, Long Beach Police Department spokesperson Richard Mejia said.

No injuries were reported from the fires. A car and the outside of a home were damaged, authorities said.

The first report came in around 3:30 a.m. Thursday about a vehicle fire in the 2800 block of Iroquois Avenue, said Capt. Jack Crabtree, a spokesperson for the Long Beach Fire Department. The car was in flames after a flag hanging over the driveway where it was parked was set ablaze and fell onto the canvas convertible top.

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Aug. 18, 2022

As fire personnel were extinguishing that blaze, calls came in reporting fires outside other homes, Crabtree said.

Security camera video obtained by the Long Beach Post shows a man wearing a black jacket, gray ski cap and headphones walking up to one home in the dark and using what appears to be a lighter to ignite the corner of a U.S. flag hanging in front.

Crabtree declined to say how many calls were fielded, citing the ongoing investigation.

Several fires had gone out by the time firefighters arrived. Fire personnel extinguished others, Crabtree said, noting that the blazes were consistent with torched flags. Some were U.S. flags; others were burned beyond recognition, he said.

A tipster’s call led authorities to Meylor, they said.

He was arrested after police responded to a fire assist call around 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the 2900 block of Studebaker Road, Mejia said. Meylor had already been detained by fire personnel and park rangers when officers arrived.