Crime & Justice

Suspect arrested in Da Vinci complex arson fire in DTLA

An overhead view of the 110 Freeway and the 'Da Vinci' building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles.
An overhead view of the 110 Freeway and the 'Da Vinci' building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
An overhead view of the 110 Freeway and the 'Da Vinci' building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles.
An overhead panorama view of the "Da Vinci" building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
An overhead view of the 110 Freeway and the 'Da Vinci' building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles.
Fire crews spray down smoldering scaffolding that caught fire early Monday morning in downtown L.A.
Maya Sugarman/ KPCC
An overhead view of the 110 Freeway and the 'Da Vinci' building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles.
The view from North Fremont Street in downtown L.A. shows the fire still smoldering in some areas.
Maya Sugarman/ KPCC
An overhead view of the 110 Freeway and the 'Da Vinci' building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles.
Windows of buildings adjacent to an under-constuction apt building that caught fire early Monday morning, Dec. 8, 2014 were blown out by the heat.
Maya Sugarman/ KPCC


Police have arrested a man in connection with the massive fire that consumed a seven-story apartment complex in Downtown Los Angeles last December, the Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed.

The suspect was arrested by the LAPD's anti-terrorism division on Tuesday. He has been identified as 56-year-old Dawud Abdulwali of Los Angeles.

At a press conference Wednesday evening, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the downtown area, joined representatives of the Los Angeles Fire Department, the LAPD and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to thank everyone who worked on the investigation.

According to ATF's L.A. Chief Carlos Canino, investigators worked nonstop for six months to apprehend the suspect, whom he called "cowardly."

Canino said investigators used modern technology, as well as "old-fashioned" police work, to catch Abdulwali. He said there was "zero evidence" that the fire was a "terrorism event."

Abdulwali was taken into custody after a traffic stop in Los Angeles, Canino said.

The fire, which began in the early hours of Monday, December 8, destroyed the 1.3 million-square-foot site of the Da Vinci apartment building, which was still under construction. It also damaged buildings nearby and clogged up morning rush-hour traffic.

Investigators estimated the damage at $10 million to $20 million. That's in addition to roughly $60 million worth of damage to nearby city-owned building on Figueroa Street, Mayor Garcetti said.

Shortly after the incident, they also released videos of two people to whom they wanted to speak. Canino said he would not discuss that part of the investigation.

Mayor Garcetti said it was unlikely that anyone would be able to claim the $170,000 reward offered to tipsters soon after the fire.

Canino said the thousands of tips that were called in did not result in Abdulwali's capture.

This story has been updated.