james anthony lawlor Man Who Tried To Set Homeless Couple On Fire Is Family Man, Nice Guy, Says Defense Attorney

James Anthony Lawlor and a sketch by one of his alleged victims. (Photo: Santa Ana Police Dept.)

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A Santa Ana man who allegedly tried to set a homeless couple’s tent on fire earlier this month is a “family man,” his lawyer said Tuesday.

James Anthony Lawlor’s attorney said the 35-year-old owns a home in Santa Ana, and that he was just concerned about homeless people camping out in the area. Attorney Mark Fredrick said his client’s daughter passes the homeless couple in question on her way to school, and that “others have expressed concern about the safety of their kids in the neighborhood.”

Neighbors were also concerned about a “lewd comment” a transient in the area made to a girl, said Fredrick.

Lawlor was booked last week on suspicion of attempted murder, arson, assault and terrorist threats for allegedly dousing with gasoline and setting ablaze the tent of a homeless couple encamped at the intersection of Bristol and Tolliver streets in Santa Ana on January 19.

Police said Lawlor had threatened the couple, saying he was going home to get his Glock handgun if they didn’t leave the dirt lot. He then kicked the homeless man in the head and returned with a gasoline can he used to set the tent on fire.

The male suffered minor burns as he helped his partner escape the tent.

A witness photograph and a crudely drawn sketch of Lawlor by the homeless man injured helped lead fire investigators to the suspect.

santaana homelessarson Man Who Tried To Set Homeless Couple On Fire Is Family Man, Nice Guy, Says Defense Attorney

Photo of Anthony Lawlor setting homeless couple’s tent on fire. (Photo: Santa Ana Police Dept.)

Lawlor faces at least seven years to life in prison if convicted.


(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. City News Service contributed to this report.)

  1. Victim fund for the couple and the woman’s service animal who was also in the home (tent) when set on fire. https://www.gofundme.com/510prn4

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