Homeless Victim’s Sketch Helped Officers Catch Suspected Attacker
A homeless man’s sketch helped police officers catch a man suspected of attempted murder and arson, police said.
James Anthony Lawlor was arrested by police in Santa Ana, California, on Jan. 25 and charges included attempted murder and arson of an inhabited structure.
The structure was a tent where a homeless couple was living, according to the Santa Ana Police Department.
Lawlor approached the tent and told them they had 15 minutes to leave or he would return with a gun. When the homeless man stuck his head outside to talk to the suspect, he was kicked twice in the head.
The suspect then left but returned five minutes later with a gas can and poured gasoline on the tent and set it on fire.
Both victims exited the tent safely but the man suffered minor burns in addition to the injuries from being kicked twice. The female was apparently unharmed.
A witness took a picture of the suspect setting the tent on fire, but another clue was an accurate sketch of the suspect drawn by the homeless man.
“They drew—not a professional—it may look a little cartoonish, but when you put the suspect’s picture next to the drawing, looks pretty good,” Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told CBS.
The homeless man has not been named as of yet.
Bertagna said the motive behind the attack appeared to be frustration over the number of homeless people in the area.
“He was upset by, as many people are, the homeless issue, but taking it out by lighting somebody on fire is not the answer,” he said, adding to the Orange County Register that the suspect made incriminating statements while being interviewed by detectives.