A man accused of threatening and setting a homeless couple's tent on fire in Southern California was arrested Thursday after police were able to track him down thanks to a sketch drawn by one of the victims.

The Santa Ana Police Department said in a news release that James Anthony Lawlor, 35, was charged with attempted murder, arson, assault and making terrorist threats in connection with the attack earlier this month.

In that incident, Lawlor allegedly approached the couple, who were living on a vacant lot around 8:30 a.m., and told them they had 15 minutes to clear out or he would return with his Glock handgun. When the man stuck his head out of the tent to talk to the suspect, he was kicked twice in the head, police said.

After leaving the couple, Lawlor then returned a few minutes later holding a red gas container, poured gasoline on the occupied tent and set it on fire before leaving in his black truck, according to police.

“He was upset by, as many people are, the homeless issue, but taking it out by lighting somebody on fire is not the answer,” Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told CBS2 News.


The couple was able to get out of the tent safely, and the male victim only had minor injuries from the earlier assault along with minor burns.

Homeless Attack

A picture taking by a witness showing Anthony Lawlor allegedly setting homeless couple’s tent on fire. (Santa Ana Police Department)

Police were able to track down Lawlor after a witness took a photo of his truck leaving the scene, and the male victim drew a crude sketch of his attacker.

“It may look a little cartoonish, but when you put the suspect’s picture next to the drawing, looks pretty good,” Bertagna told CBS2 News.