It took just one knucklehead the night of the Los Angeles Lakers' title-winning Game 7 victory over their archrivals, the Boston Celtics, to wreck cab driver Abraham Teferi's ability to earn a living.
A man, Teferi told reporters, tossed a flaming rag or papers into the cab's interior, which started a fire that destroyed his cab.
Now the Los Angeles City Fire Department's Arson/Counterterrorism unit has released video of the arson suspect who attacked Teferi's taxi. Arson investigators were asking the public's help to identify the man.
Anyone with information on the suspect shown in the video or additional video footage is asked to call the LAFD's Arson/Counterterrorism unit at (213) 485-6095.
WARNING: Video contains disturbing images and foul language.
The attack on Teferi's cab took place about 9:40 p.m. Thursday after the Lakers Game, according to the sheriff's department.
The driver, Teferi, told reporters that the mob that burned his taxi destroyed his ability to make a living. He said he feared for his life when an unruly crowd swarmed around him.
"Why they have to kill me because the Lakers won the game?" said Teferi. "I don't know why they chose me. There are a million cars, you know, in the front, in the back. Taxis, you know, on all sides. I don't know why me.
"They tried to turn over the car, and I (was) scared," said Teferi. "I try to get out and tell to the guy 'Please don't hit my car.' Then he hit me . . . "
Teferi also said he could see police near by, but he had stand there and watch his cab burn. Now he is unsure how he will work.
"I have to pay my rent," said Teferi. "I need money but I don't have money now. I'm gonna be homeless if I don't work, 'cause I don't have no back up. I live just day by day."
Teferi's taxi permit was in the cab and it was destroyed in the fire along with other documents and some of his clothes.
Without the permit, Teferi is not allowed to drive a taxi.
While most fans celebrated responsibly, a small group of vandals jumped on cars, set fires, broke windows, tagged buildings, vandalized property and harassed motorists trying to leave the area around Staples Center.
The game ended just before 9 p.m. Thursday, and by midnight, the Los Angeles Fire Department had responded to three vehicle fires, one vegetation fire and 15 rubbish fires within a half-mile radius of Staples Center, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
In that same area, the fire department handled 18 medical aid requests, and eight people were taken to hospitals, said Humphrey.
Los Angeles Police Department officers arrested 38 people, many of them for suspicion of public drunkenness, vandalism and inciting a riot, while deputies in East Los Angeles arrested six people, including two for suspicion of felony assault on a peace officer, and one for harming a sheriff's department horse, according to the police and sheriff's departments.
A man was arrested for allegedly slapping the necks of several sheriff's department horses, said Parker. The horses were wearing face shields, as were the officers, and one horse was struck in the shield by a thrown object, which did not injure the animal, said Parker.
"I give the game a 10, I give the celebration about a five," said police Chief Charlie Beck.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said the troublemakers should be punished.
"Rioters should be prosecuted vigorously, allowed no plea bargains, required to serve full sentences and make restitution for damages," said Antonovich.
If you have information regarding persons seen in this video, or other acts of arson anywhere in Los Angeles, please call the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section directly at (213) 485-6095.