Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department are shown at a news conference on May 9 to announce the arrest of a suspected arsonist following an incident after a Lakers NBA Championship victory in 2010.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut
Two years after riotous revelers set fire to a taxi following the Lakers' 2010 NBA championship win, authorities have arrested a suspect in the arson, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Wednesday.
Darren Cooper, 22, was initially arrested two weeks ago on an unrelated battery charge, according to officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department's arson unit. He had also been wanted for the arson on a warrant that had been issued after an anonymous tipster spotted the San Bernardino resident in a video of the June 17, 2010 incident.
After the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics to win the championship, rowdy fans spilled into the downtown streets near Staples Center, breaking car windows and throwing trash cans at buildings.
Near the intersection of Flower and 7th streets, a group of fans used T-shirts and newspapers to set fire to a taxicab. LAFD officials posted video of the incident, leading to numerous tips.
Cooper faces up to three years in jail if convicted on charges of arson of personal property, Captain Michael Rueda said. LAFD's arson unit continues to seek the identities of at least five other individuals.
Villaraigosa was joined by Fire Chief Brian Cummings and Councilwoman Jan Perry at Wednesday's press conference. With three L.A. teams -- the Lakers, Clippers and Kings -- in the playoffs, Villaraigosa urged fans to celebrate peacefully.
"For the first time, all three teams are in the playoffs, and that's good for Los
Angeles," Villaraigosa said.
The cab burning was believed to have been the worst of the incidents during the after-game revelry.
AEG, which owns Staples Center, donated $10,000 to the cab's driver, Abraham Teferi, who was inside the vehicle as the mob set upon it, bashing windows, breaking off mirrors and stomping on the hood and roof while others cheered.
Teferi said at the time he feared for his life and was struck when he got out and tried to get the attackers to stop. He said a man started the fire by tossing flaming rags or papers into the cab. Teferi was rescued from the vehicle by sheriff's deputies and police officers who saw the incident.
Copyright 2012 - Daily News, Los Angeles
McClatchy-Tribune News Service