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Phoenix Youth Center set ablaze

Police arrested and charged the suspected arsonist connected to LGBT youth center fire

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Updated July 29, 2017 03:31 PM EDT

Police arrested on Friday the suspected arsonist in a fire that occurred earlier this month at a Phoenix-based LGBT youth center, KPHO-TV reported. Police took 26-year-old Darren William Beach, Jr. into custody at his apartment without incident and was subsequently charged with one count of arson of an occupied structure.

His bond was set at $25,000, according to his initial court appearance.

The Phoenix Fire Department released footage of a man casually walking up to a LGBT youth center in Arizona carrying a canister of gasoline in broad daylight. Twenty-six-year old Darren William Beach Jr. looks around before he enters the youth center and pours gasoline all over the floor of the center and sets it ablaze, ensuring to shut the door on his way out.

A man is caught on tape setting fire to a LGBT youth center in Phoenix
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It only takes a few brief moments for the Phoenix youth center-- which provides services to LGBT teens, including shelter-- to be engulfed by flames.

Despite images of a charred-looking building, no one was injured during the July 12th incident. But officials launched an indefinite closure of the facility, also known as "one.n.ten."

Fire department officials initially didn't believe that the fire was intentionally set, but sparked by a "combination of improperly stored rags and batteries mixed with a hot, ventilated room," Phoenix fire Capt. Rob McDade told Arizona Central.

The culprit, according to Executive Director Linda Elliot, began accessing the community's resources from 2010 to 2013. In 2016, he aged out of the program at 25.

"It was a total shock. I mean we're still trying to deal with it."
Executive Director Linda Elliot

Elliot continued, saying that Beach wasn't a "regular user," as he sought resources from other agencies as well.

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"We had no warning signals from him throughout his time with us. There was nothing to let on that he had anything against our organization. In fact, he shared how much he appreciated how we supported him."

“Obviously this young man has issues and needs help," she added.

Though no one was physically injured in the arson, Elliot said she worries how this will mentally and emotionally affect other users of the services.

“Many of them knew this young man, and this is their safe place,” Elliot said. “Someone comes and burns it down … that’s traumatic.”

Police are asking the public to assist with his whereabouts.

The center opened a temporary location and are asking for donations and support as they work to rebuild the center. Visit onenten.org for ways you can help!

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