American Scene

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CALIFORNIA

Suspect arrested in L.A. area arson spree

LOS ANGELES — Authorities arrested a man Monday in connection with dozens of suspected arson attacks that destroyed parked cars, scorched buildings and rattled much of the nation’s second-largest city over the New Year’s weekend.

The suspect resembled a “person of interest” captured on surveillance video. The man, thought to be 20 to 30 years old, had a receding hairline and a shoulder-length ponytail and was seen emerging from an underground parking garage on Hollywood Boulevard, where a car fire was reported.

He was stopped by police early Monday in a van being sought by arson investigators.

Police declined to identify the suspect or reveal any motive for the fires, but he was to be booked later on arson charges arising from more than 50 blazes that have flared since Friday in Hollywood, neighboring West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

Firefighters have not responded to any other suspicious fires since the man was detained, Capt. Jaime Moore said.

The blazes caused an estimated $2 million in damage and forced many apartment dwellers from their homes. But there were no serious injuries, although one firefighter was hurt in a fall from a ladder, and another person suffered smoke inhalation.

One of Saturday’s fires occurred at the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex, a popular tourist destination bordered by the Walk of Fame in a neighborhood that includes Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

FLORIDA

Trustees will create anti-hazing committee

TALLAHASSEE — Florida A&M University’s board of trustees on Monday approved plans to create an independent committee to study hazing and a memorial to a marching band member who police say died after being punched and paddled during a hazing ritual.

The five-member committee will study hazing at other universities, methods that have helped students resist hazing and how to best govern FAMU’s famed Marching 100 band.

The death of drum major Robert Champion in November and the alleged severe beating of another band member have brought renewed scrutiny to a hazing culture in the band.

The committee will not investigate Champion’s death or other hazing being investigated by law enforcement.

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