Watch: Man sets fire to two dozen American and military flags in residential neighborhood, being held on $3M bond

Fire by Cullan Smith is licensed under Unsplash
LONG BEACH, CA - According to a report from Fox News, on Thursday, December 8th, a man who allegedly lit several American flags on fire was arrested.

In surveillance footage, the man is seen moving from home to home with a lighter around 3:30 a.m., setting ablaze residents' American flags. The first call came in shortly after that, according to Long Beach fire Captain Jack Crabtree. Upon arriving on scene, they found a convertible in a driveway that was engulfed in flames. Investigators determined that a flag above the car had been set on fire and dropped onto the vehicle.

Later that morning, a series of calls about multiple burned flags along Iroquois Avenue and Hackett Avenue were reported. Firefighters put some of the fires out, while others were extinguished by residents before the firefighters arrived. According to authorities, the man targeted American and military flags, but left other types of flags untouched. Over a dozen properties were vandalized by the suspect. Ring doorbell footage from one household captures the suspect struggling to ignite a flag in the resident's driveway.

One victim, identified as Jane Andrus, said in a statement: "We just can't believe this is happening. I walked outside and the pole was charred. The old pole was just charred and there was no flag and something was missing."

The woman didn't even realize her house was targeted until the following day. She is unsure how the fire was extinguished, but it grateful that her family home for three generations remained unharmed. She added: "It was just so casual the way this person walked up and took the time and the lighter and the whole bit. My family's home could have been taken from us very quickly and it wasn't and I'm very grateful."

Alexis Lenon, a nearby resident, said that she woke up when her dog started barking and stepping outside to see flames shooting from her best friend's home across the street. She credits her dog Lucca, who normally doesn't bark, for making sure everyone got out of their home safely, adding: "I think because of him we were able to get our friends out in time, and I just can't imagine what would have happened if he didn't wake us up."

She said: "Nothing like this has ever happened before and by the time it was noon the next day, all of the American flags had been replaced by one of our neighbors and so we're really fortunate and it's such a tight-knit community." Another resident and victim, identified as Bradley Mahlsted, said: "When you're a father and you have a young child sitting at home and a lot of these families have children sleeping in their beds, and you have an individual setting fire to a flag that's affixed to their house, I'm honestly shocked that no homes went up in flames."

A day after the incident, Mahlsted decided to replace every flag that was destroyed in his neighborhood, some of which belong to war veterans and carry a ton of sentimental value. He said: "Somebody loses something, if you can help a neighbor out. If you can help somebody out, that's what we all should be doing." Thanks to the community, the suspect was identified by locals and police were able to make an arrest. The man has been identified as 35-year-old John Leo Meylor of Laguna Niguel.

He was arrested in the area of El Dorado Park in the 2900 block of North Studebaker Road just after 2:30 p.m. on December 8th. This was 11 hours after Long Beach firefighters received the first call. He was denied bail and remains behind bars on a $3.25 million bail. Meylor faces 13 counts of arson, one count of arson to an inhabited structure, and violation of parole.
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