HAWTHORNE (CBSLA) – A man is under arrest for setting a Hawthorne police SUV ablaze directly in front of the department’s headquarters early Thursday morning.

The patrol SUV after being destroyed in the fire. Dec. 5, 2019. (Hawthorne PD)

Elmer Maldonado, 24, was arrested on arson charges.

According to Hawthorne police, at around 12:15 a.m. Thursday, officers looking at security video monitors discovered the suspect loitering in front of the department headquarters in the 12500 block of Hawthorne Boulevard.

Elmer Maldonado. (Hawthorne PD)

The officers then noticed an empty patrol SUV parked on Hawthorne Boulevard, a Ford Explorer Police Interceptor, on fire.

Surveillance video showed the suspect dousing the vehicle with an unknown liquid, setting it on fire, watching as flames erupted and then casually jogging away.

Maldonado was arrested at the scene and Los Angeles County Fire Department crews were called to extinguish the blaze.

There were no injuries.

The vehicle was completely destroyed. There was no word on a motive.



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