Arson Suspect Arrested in Chinatown Blazes That Damaged 2 Buildings, 5 Vehicles

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Mustafa Kurtoglu is seen in a booking photo released Sept. 27, 2019, by the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Mustafa Kurtoglu is seen in a booking photo released Sept. 27, 2019, by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Investigators arrested a suspected arsonist after a series of fires damaged two buildings and five cars in Chinatown over the past week, officials said Friday.

Mustafa Kurtoglu, 22, was taken into custody Thursday in connection with the suspicious blazes that began last Friday, Sept. 20, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a news release.

Kurtoglu was already on probation and was wanted on a warrant for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, according to LAFD.

Three vehicles were all set on fire at about 5:45 p.m. last Friday in the area of 422 Ord St., and the flames’ radiant heat damaged a nearby building, firefighters said.

Then early Wednesday morning, around 2 a.m., another vehicle fire was sparked a few blocks north, outside 520 W. Bernard St. Flames in that blaze spread to a second vehicle and burned part of a church, officials said.

The suspect in a series of Chinatown vehicle arsons is seen in undated surveillance images released Sept. 27, 2019, by the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The suspect in a series of Chinatown vehicle arsons is seen in undated surveillance images released Sept. 27, 2019, by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Detectives concluded that all four fires were intentionally set. After reviewing surveillance video, investigators identified a man seen biking in the area as a person of interest.

Kurtoglu was detained after business security officers in the neighborhood spotted a man matching the description and called 911.

Kurtoglu was taken to a police station for questioning, during which he stated that he was living on the streets. His interview statements, along with other evidence, led authorities to book him on suspicion of arson.

LAFD says it plans to ask prosecutors to file felony charges against the suspect.

Inmate records show he remained in custody Friday on $310,000 bail.

Credit: Los Angeles Fire Department
Credit: Los Angeles Fire Department

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