MID-CITY — Police have arrested a man in connection with the Sept. 10 arson at the Santa Monica BMW Dealership.

Tyrone Murphy was arrested and charged with arson earlier this week following a lengthy investigation conducted by SMPD arson investigator Detective Robert D’Andrea.

The case began at about 10:40 p.m. on Sept. 10. when police officers and firefighters responded to calls of a fire at the dealership. Based on witness statements, officers arrested a suspect that night but that suspect was released when officers determined the evidence didn’t support his arrest.

Officers were able to locate surveillance photos of a second suspect whose appearance was consistent with witness accounts. The images were taken at 10:21 p.m. and show a man with a red gas can purchasing $4 worth of gasoline from a gas station on the 1300 block of Santa Monica Blvd.

D’Andrea converted those images into bulletins that were circulated, eventually resulting in a resident calling SMPD to identify Murphy. D’Andrea said a second source called with information about Murphy’s routine, providing officers with a potential search area. An officer patrolling the area of 20th and Pico recognized Murphy and arrested him last week.

Murphy has provided limited information to officers at this time and D’Andrea said the investigation is ongoing.

According to SMPD, four used vehicles were destroyed and a fifth was partly damaged in the fire. Officials estimated the total loss as about $250,000. No home or residences were in danger.

Arson investigations are conducted by a joint partnership between SMFD and SMPD. Firefighters are responsible for the initial response and fire investigation while the police department takes over any criminal proceedings.


Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...

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