(LOS ANGELES) — The man accused of igniting dozens of fires across Los Angeles during a four-day rampage over New Year’s weekend now faces 37 counts of arson and is being held on nearly $3 million bail.
Harry Burkhart was charged with 28 counts of arson of property and nine counts of arson of an inhabited structure Wednesday night when he appeared at a Los Angeles courthouse to be arraigned, according to District Attorney Steve Cooley. The 24-year-old German national had bail set at $2.85 million.
The charges also allege that an incendiary device designed to accelerate the fire was placed under the engine area of cars.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Upinder S. Kalra ultimately decided to postpone Burkhart’s arraignment until Jan. 24, after a delay was requested by the suspect’s public defender. More charges could be filed at that date.
Prosecutors alleged that Burkhart was “motivated by his rage against Americans” when he set a series of 52 blazes in the Los Angeles area, primarily in Hollywood and the Sherman Oaks neighborhoods.
Sources told ABC News Burkhart may have been motivated by his anger at U.S. immigration authorities that stemmed from a deportation hearing involving his mother, Dorothee, that took place in Los Angeles County about a week and a half ago.
At the hearing, Burkhart broke into a tirade, spewing angry anti-American statements before being escorted from the courtroom by U.S. Marshalls, officials told ABC News. Officials said he shouted “F… the United States” during the Dec. 29 hearing, one day before he disappeared and the fires in Hollywood began.
According to a redacted criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday, Burkhart’s mother was facing extradition because she pilfered rent security deposits and had skipped out on paying for a breast augmentation surgery.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sonia Moghe and Wayne Drash, CNN
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Andreas Preuss, CNN
Jon Ostrower and Rene Marsh, CNN