Homeless victim's sketch helps cops nab suspected attacker

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A 35-year-old Santa Ana man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of setting a transient couple's tent afire and kicking one of them in the head, police said.

James Anthony Lawlor was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, arson, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and terrorist threats, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

About 8:30 a.m. last Friday, Lawlor allegedly told the transients, who were living on a vacant lot in the 1300 block of West Tolliver Street, that they had 20 minutes to clear out or he would return with a loaded gun, Bertagna said.

When the homeless man partially opened the tent flap, Lawlor kicked him twice in the head, then fled in a black pickup truck and returned five minutes later with a can of gasoline, which he poured on the tent and ignited, Bertagna alleged.

The victim, whose name was withheld, suffered minor burns as he helped his companion out of the tent, but declined to go to a hospital for treatment, Bertagna said.

A witness took a photo of a vehicle leaving the scene. According to local media, detectives said the photo along with a sketch drawn by one of the victim's helped them locate Lawlor.

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