Shervin Lalezary, the 30-year-old Los Angeles County reserve sheriff's deputy who captured arsonist Harry Burkhart, made his capture as a volunteer who earns just one dollar a year for his services, according to reports.
Lalezary, whose regular day job is as a Beverly Hills real estate attorney, was patrolling at 3 a.m. when he pulled over a Dodge van that Burkhart was driving in Hollywood. Lalezary, who was hunting for Burkhart nonstop with other officers, was only recently qualified to patrol alone, authorities told reporters on Tuesday.
Luckily, the van that Burkhart was driving matched the one that the officers were looking for.
As soon as he saw the van, he notified the entire network, said Steve Whitmore, Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman. Immediately he had backup, and two [Los Angeles police] officers were right behind him.
Burkhart ended up being arrested on suspicion of setting more than 50 fires since last week, burning cars in apartment building parking lots in Hollywood and nearby areas in the process.
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I can tell you this is a lot more exciting than my day job, Lalezary said at a news conference soon after the arrest.
What's more astounding is that Lalezary made the arrest on just his third solo patrol shift, according to the Associated Press.
He believes in the community service aspects of the reserve deputy, Whitmore said. This is part of the job for him and he doesn't want to talk about himself because he believes he's part and parcel of a larger effort.
So, who exactly is Shervin Lalezary? Here's seven things to know:
- He was born in Tehran and moved with his family to the United States about 25 years ago.
- He has a University of Southern California law degree and was admitted to the California bar in 2008.
- He became interested in law enforcement in college, according to his 35-year-old brother, Dr. Arash Lalezary.
- He became a reserve deputy in 2007 and after training was certified as a Level 3 reservist, allowing him to perform traffic duties and work with sworn deputies, according to Whitmore. Several weeks more of additional training made him a Level 2 reservist who could ride along with a deputy on patrol. Finally, in December, he became a Level 1 reservist, which meant he was able to patrol alone (and get his own department-issued gun and patrol car)
- He is attached to the West Hollywood sheriff's station, working at least 20 hours a month, according to Whitmore.
- He has no plans to take further training and become a sworn deputy, according to Whitmore.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said that despite Lalezary's status as volunteer, Lalezary will still get acclaim.
This is one of the most significant arrests anyone can make - regular or reserve, Baca said on Monday. And this will follow him for the rest of his life.