LOS ANGELES – Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Criminal Conspiracy Section on Wednesday, announced the arrest of 56-year-old Dawud Abdulwali in connection to the December 8, 2014, arson fire at the Da Vinci Apartment complex on Temple Street.
Abdulwali, a resident of Los Angeles, was arrested on an unrelated traffic charge on Tuesday, May 26, and was later booked at the LAPD 77th Street Jail for violations of Aggravated Arson (PC451.5(a)) and Arson of a Structure (PC 451(c)). He is currently being held in lieu of $1 million bail. Due to the large monetary fire loss, if convicted, Abdulwali faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Investigators collected electronic and physical evidence connecting Abdulwali to the crime.
“Our investigators worked tirelessly with their colleagues in law enforcement for months to apprehend the suspected arsonist in this spectacularly destructive fire,” said LAFD Chief Ralph M. Terrazas. “This is another reminder that the LAFD has zero-tolerance for the crime of arson. We will always investigate arrest and prosecute arsonists to the full extent of the law.”
“This was an historic fire in size and dollar loss, and required an equally significant joint effort by the LAFD, LAPD and ATF to solve. Our agencies spent thousands of hours processing the scene, running down leads, interviewing potential witnesses and performing numerous other investigative activities leading to Abdulwali’s arrest,” said Special Agent in Charge Carlos A. Canino, Los Angeles Field Division of the ATF. “This investigation was a team effort from start to finish, which makes its resolution all the more gratifying.”
The December 8, 2014, fire at 900 West Temple Street destroyed the seven-story apartment complex under construction, damaged a nearby high-rise structures and the Harbor (110) Freeway. Investigators recovered sufficient evidence to eliminate all known potential accidental causes and determine the fire was intentionally set. The fire caused an estimated $20 million to $30 million in damage to the Da Vinci Apartments and upwards of $50 million to $60 million to an adjacent City building.
Investigators from ATF's NRT and the LAFD sifted through 75,000 square feet of debris, took photographs, recovered potential evidence from the scene for analysis by the ATF's National Laboratory and conducted many interviews throughout the community. The NRT's specialized resources include a canine team, certified fire investigators, forensic chemist, electrical and fire protection engineers, and additional specialists.
ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. More information on ATF can be found on www.atf.gov.
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