Homeless Man's Sketch Helps Police Catch Attempted Murder Suspect

Santa Ana Police Department
Santa Ana Police Department

The homeless man was the victim.

A homeless man’s artwork helped police catch an alleged criminal.

A California man accused of threatening to set a homeless couple’s tent on fire was arrested on Thursday, thanks to a sketch by one of the alleged victims. 

The male victim drew a photo of his attacker for police and authorities were able to track him down. Another witness took a photo of the suspect’struck.

“It may look a little cartoonish, but when you put the suspect’s picture next to the drawing, looks pretty good,” Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told CBSNews.

James Anthony Lawlor, 35, allegedly approached the couple, who were living on a vacant lot around 8:30 a.m., and told them they had 15 minutes leave the area or he would return with his Glock handgun, according to a police report.

When the victim stuck his head out to talk to the suspect, he was kicked in the head twice, police said.

Lawlor left and then allegedly 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 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. The couple was able to escape with minor injuries.

Lawlor was charged with attempted murder, arson, assault and making terrorist threats in connection with the attack earlier this month.