Man arrested after police say he set fire to LGBTQ youth center

Surveillance video shows a man setting an LGBT youth center on fire in Phoenix.

KPHO/Phoenix Fire Department

PHOENIX — A 26-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly set fire to an LGBTQ center in Phoenix, police announced Friday.

Darren Beach Jr. was taken into custody without incident, and he was charged with one count of arson of an occupied structure, CBS affiliate KPHO-TV in Phoenix reports.

Earlier this week, The Phoenix Fire Department released surveillance footage of a man dousing the one.n.ten building with gasoline before setting it on fire on July 12.

Police said Beach received services at the nonprofit, which helps homeless and LGBTQ youth, from 2013 until 2016.

“We were shocked and dismayed and hurt,” said Linda Elliott, the center’s executive director.

Ray Bradford, a former volunteer, said he has known Beach for several years.

“It was always clear to me that Darren had a good heart. He had a sense of right and wrong. He wanted people to be right with each other,” Bradford said.

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Darren Beach Jr.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

He said things took a turn for the worse when Beach became ineligible for services when he turned 25.

“If he could get the counseling, the medications and food, the shelter — just get the basic things he needs, it would have changed him radically and this incident never would have happened,” Bradford said.

Nate Rhoton, the center’s director of finance and operations, said the center lost everything in the fire, but she’s been overwhelmed by the amount of support.

“It’s really been incredible,” Rhoton said. “To experience that sort of love and acceptance from the community makes it just a little bit easier to swallow what’s happened to us — to this safe space for our youth and make it a little bit easier for them to move on.”

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Source: CBS News – United States

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