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Reserve Deputy Nabs Los Angeles Arson Suspect

January 03, 2012  | 

Photo: LASD
Photo: LASD

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reserve deputy, who works by day as an attorney, detained a suspected serial arsonist on Monday and halted a four-day fire-bombing spree.

Deputy Shervin Lalezary was coming off an eight-hour shift at about 3 a.m. Monday, when he spotted a blue Dodge minivan driven by Harry Burkhart near Fairfax Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. The reserve deputy recognized the driver from surveillance video released by the LAPD.

Burkhart, a 24-year-old German national with travel papers from Chechnya, may have been protesting his mother's deportation, when he allegedly began fire-bombing vehicles last Friday, reports the Los Angeles Times.

After recognizing the minivan, Deputy Lalezary activated his lights and notified the Joint Arson Task Force. Los Angeles Police officers arrived as backup for the deputy, who then detained Burkhart for questioning. The deputy conducted a cursory search of the minivan, which was impounded by LAPD officers, Sheriff's Spokesman Steve Whitmore told POLICE Magazine.

At 1:40 p.m., Burkhart was booked into a local holding cell by LAPD officers. Burkhart has been charged with one count of arson of an inhabited dwelling.

Deputy Lalezary, a 30-year-old Beverly Hills real estate attorney, qualified in December to ride alone on patrol. He serves the sheriff on nearly a volunteer-basis at a salary of $1 a year as a Level 1 reserve with arrest and weapon-carrying powers.

Investigators believe Burkhart may have set as many as 53 fires, mostly in vehicles. Burkhart apparently said, "I hate America," while being detained, reports ABC News.

Comments (14)

Displaying 1 - 14 of 14

John @ 1/3/2012 6:52 PM

Evidence that we need more volunteers than spending a lot of money in full time cops.

Richard @ 1/3/2012 7:33 PM

Actually, it's evidence that when full time cops are supplemented by trained and capable volunteers, communities benefit from the extra coverage.

Joe Vahle @ 1/3/2012 7:39 PM

As being a reserve deputy in York Co.,SC for 22 years the reserve program does help the full time officer but we still need the monies for more full time deputies and city officers. We do assist but i also having 3 1/2 yrs Military Police and 4 yrs as a full time city cop ive been on both sides of program.

notmeofficer @ 1/3/2012 8:48 PM

I had the opportunity to work with, train, and mentor a number of reserve deputies at West Hollywood Station. We were lucky to get young, highly educated, very motivated individuals (perhaps because of the pool of higher educated persons living in and around the station area).

I applaud Deputy Lalezary for doing his job and being a good "night hunter". Many of the reserves go onto becoming regular deputies, deciding that public service and perhaps less money, is more satisfying than their "other " job.

Level 1 LASD reserves generally are pretty high caliber... but like all things in life, the exceptional ones put in the time and energy (and put up with the BS) to become highly proficient. This cant be done riding along every once and awhile... it means dedication weekly to become a great copper.

Stan @ 1/3/2012 9:57 PM

Hey John sounds like a good idea maybe you should volunteer?

Kevin @ 1/3/2012 10:17 PM

As a fellow reserve officer I want to congratulate Officer Lalezary. The reserve program is a great asset to local law enforcment. I have been a reserve officer for 2 years and I love every minute.

As for the comment on more volunteers versus fulltime officers I couldn't disagree more. We are there as backup and support but we also have fulltime jobs and are not always available. Reserve program takes major dedication. To be an asset instead of a hendrance you need to train constantly and put in the time. This is not a hobby! It requires dedication and hard work but the rewards are worth it!

Mark @ 1/4/2012 7:11 AM

Stan couldn't have said it any better, That's right John- Suit Up!

DDW @ 1/4/2012 1:01 PM

I am a Level I reserve officer for LAPD and was also working the arson task force in Hollywood that night. Congratulations to Deputy Lalezary, whose good work stopped a dangerous criminal and also brought great positive publicity to the hard work and dedication of all reserve officers.

Bill @ 1/4/2012 5:35 PM

Chalk one up for reserves across the US this make us all feel great.
Keep up the great work in CA.

Alan @ 1/5/2012 12:24 PM

Kudos to Deputy Lalezary on a job well done. He is an asset to the LASD and is an example of how highly trained and motivated reserve officers/deputies can positively affect the communities in which they serve. Congratulations and thank you.

Rjai @ 1/5/2012 3:33 PM

Although the reserve deputy's keen observation skill and attention to duty led to the arrest of the arson suspect, and I commend him for his work, I think all of the officers and fire fighters working the task force should be commended for their efforts. The firefighters for attacking the fires so quickly before any lives were lost, the due diligence of the LAPD for locating and releasing the surviellance video and all the other agencies for pulling together and working around the clock to capture this idiot.

Capt David-Ret LA County @ 1/5/2012 4:42 PM

Mucho kudos......don't let it go to your head..

p @ 1/6/2012 4:21 AM

What? Volunteers are just that. They do not spend 40 hours plus a

week on patrol nor do they have supervisors who must focus on many non practical details.

Jim @ 1/6/2012 6:38 AM

Reserve Deputy Lalezary was one of many law enforcement officers armed with the information on the suspect. He was the "lucky one" that was put in the position of seeing the suspect and vehicle and recognizing them. Congratulations to him - and his team. As to the question of more Reserves or more regular officers, I say do what you can to put more educated and trained bodies on the street. I am not so much for "citizen volunteers", but a staff of trained Reserve Officers is a valuable tool. As a regular officer and former supervisor of a Reserve Deputy staff of 12, I say thank you to all reserves - and those who train them.

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