The man who set fire to an LGBT Youth Center on July 12 used to go there, the group said Wednesday.
“It was a total shock,” one•n•ten Executive Director Linda Elliot said at a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona. “We’re still trying to deal with it.”
Elliot explained that they recognized the suspect immediately upon seeing surveillance footage of the arson. She described the suspect as someone who aged out of the program upon turning 25 in 2016, but doesn’t know why he’d do such a thing. He never acted this way before, she said.
Investigators with The Phoenix Fire Department originally thought a spontaneous combustion caused the fire, but that changed when they announced the arson investigation on Wednesday. Officials are still looking for the suspect, who they identified as 26-year-old Darren William Beach Jr.
No injuries were reported, but Elliot said that they lost everything in the flames. Nonetheless, they are covered by insurance, and will open a new location in September. She explained that the One-in-10 Youth Center is an important source for their kids, many of whom have faced abuse.
“Many of the youth we encounter have been kicked out of their homes because they’re gay,” she said. “They’ve been on the street, they’ve been abused, beat up, sex trafficked.”
[Screengrab via The Phoenix Fire Department]