Arson suspect targets little league field in Huntington Beach

Thursday, November 17, 2016
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Authorities were searching for an arson suspect who torched a score booth at a little league ballpark in Huntington Beach.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Security video captured a man setting a little league ballpark's score booth on fire in Huntington Beach late Sunday evening, according to authorities.

Huntington Beach police said the man was seen on camera torching the score booth at Wardlow Park, home of the Huntington Valley Little League, at about 9:15 p.m.

"He then kneels down and starts to light something on fire and starts to walk away from the area," Jennifer Marlatt, the Huntington Beach Police spokesperson said.

Flames destroyed the score booth and everything inside, including gear for catchers, umpires and items used to control the score board, according to Huntington Valley Little League President Tim Stone.

The bleachers on either side were also damaged along with the netting above home plate.

"I felt scared almost because this is like my home away from home," 10-year-old Ben Stone said.

The arson happened just hours after the little leaguers snapped a team photo marking the last game of the season.

"I've played here since tee ball, now I come here to know that someone did this, it's just not right," 10-year-old Colin McNiven said.

Organizers said 750 children play at the baseball park throughout the year.

"Our kids come from all socio-economic backgrounds," Tim Stone said. "Some kids don't have the best home situation and for many of them this is a sanctuary. We want to make sure we can be that spot they can come and feel safe and play the game of baseball."

Officials said previous plans to improve the field were put on hold to pay for the damage. Tim Stone said they were still gathering estimates, but it could cost upwards of $25,000 to replace the score booth and the equipment that was inside.

The field remains closed until further notice as players try to raise money before the season opens in January. In the meantime, police were searching for the suspected arsonist, who was described only as a man wearing a hoodie, shorts and carrying a backpack.

If you have any information about the arson, you were urged to call the Huntington Beach Police Department at (714) 536-5951.

To learn how you can donate to help the players of the Huntington Valley Little League, click here.