Authorities arrested a California man after footage surfaced showing him lighting people’s American flags on fire. According to reports, the Long Beach man went from house to house around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, torching people’s flags.
Long Beach officials said 35-year-old John Leo Meylor was arrested on suspicion of 13 counts of arson. He was also arrested on one count of arson to an inhabited structure and violated parole. Police later took him into custody Thursday afternoon. He is also being held on no bail.
Police first caught wind of the man’s actions after they received multiple reports from homeowners about their burned American flags. In addition, one burning flag fell onto a homeowner’s parked BMW, which later caught on fire.
“My best friend from across the street called and woke me up because her dog woke her up,” said Tracy Greenberg. “They were burning her flag as well. Came outside, flag on fire. Car was on fire, too.”
Meylor reportedly specifically went after American and military flags but left other flags alone. According to police, over a dozen flags were torched.
Footage from someone’s Ring doorbell shows the suspect trying to light someone’s American flag while standing in their driveway.
Video footage leads to arrest of man who burned over a dozen American flags
He also appears to be in an oddly relaxed state, with one hand inside his pocket. As the video depicts, he makes sure the flag is fully lit by flicking his lighter several times. He then slowly walks away from the burning flags.
“We just can’t believe this is happening,” resident Jane Andrus said after the incident. “I walked outside and the pole was charred. The old pole was just charred and there was no flag and something was missing.”
She didn’t know Meylor targeted her home until she woke up the next day. Although she’s still unsure who extinguished the fire, she is thankful her home remained standing.
“It was just so casual the way this person walked up and took the time and the lighter and the whole bit,” said Andrus. “My family’s home could have been taken from us very quickly and it wasn’t, and I’m very grateful.”
After police reviewed the footage, they identified the man and placed him in custody. He was arrested several hours after the incident. Police found him at a nearby park.
At the time, local resident Alexis Lenon woke up to her dogs barking. “It was terrifying,” she admitted. “Somebody on your property burning a flag? It’s pretty scary. We have a baby in the house. That was our first thought.”
Several of the scattered arson fires were caught on camera at other residences. One neighbor said police searched his backyard for the man.