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Taxi torching arson suspect arrested for 2010 post-Lakers game melee

Photo by Chris Yarzab via Flickr Creative Commons

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An arson suspect in the two-year-old case of the taxi that was set on fire after the Lakers won the NBA Championship in 2010, was arrested and released on bail last weekend.

22-year-old Darren Cooper of San Bernardino came to the attention of investigators thanks to witness tips and footage taken of the June 17, 2010 incident, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department officials.

One of several acts of violence and vandalism that occurred near the Staples Center downtown, Cooper is accused of burning the taxi, and was charged with one felony count of arson to property, say authorities. 

"The taxi driver, out of fear for his own life, got out of the vehicle, and they proceeded to break the windows of his taxi, jump on his taxi, tear off the mirrors, tear off the taxi sign, graffiti across the hood of his car - and there were six individuals that we feel were responsible for the burning of his vehicle," said LA Fire Captain Jamie Moore who says they identified Cooper from a video taken by someone on the street.

Investigators want the public’s help in identifying five other suspects. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference on Wednesday that Cooper’s arrest serves as an example, and a warning.

“I know our great fans around the city will celebrate victories appropriately, but for those that use these occasions to commit illegal acts, know that we will find you, we will arrest you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” said Villaraigosa.