Santa Ana police arrest suspected assailant with help from homeless victim's sketch

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Santa Ana police arrested a 35-year-old man Thursday on suspicion of attacking two homeless people thank to help of a victim's sketch. (KABC)

Santa Ana police arrested a 35-year-old man Thursday on suspicion of attacking two homeless people.

Authorities said a sketch provided by one of the victims helped them put suspect James Lawlor behind bars.

The homeless man and his female companion were in a tent in an empty parking lot Friday, when the suspect threatened them.

"Our suspect initially went to their tent, they were inside, zipped up. He started screaming at them they had 20 minutes to leave or he would come out with his fully-loaded glock," Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

When the victim unzipped his tent and looked out, authorities said the suspect kicked the man in the head twice before running off. But a few moments later, he returned.

"He returns five minutes later, he has a gas can in his hand. He pours gasoline on top of the occupied tent and lights it on fire," Bertagna said.

The man and woman escaped from the burning tent with no serious injuries. A witness took a photo of a black truck leaving the scene. Detectives said the photo helped them locate Lawlor's vehicle in addition to the victim's sketch.

"They asked, 'What does he look like?' He makes two attempts that he's not comfortable with, he makes the third - which for an amateur was not bad. The first time I've ever had a victim do a drawing," Bertagna said.

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