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Police arrest man who burned American flag hanging from Richmond home

Andrew Rosas (PHOTO: Richmond Police)

RICHMOND, Va. -- The person caught on video setting fire to an American flag hung outside a Richmond home has turned himself in to police.

Andrew Rosas, 26, of Catherine Street, surrendered at Richmond Police headquarters at approximately 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

He was charged with arson.

James Tanner said he discovered the vandalism when he woke up Wednesday and checked footage from the Nest cam focused on his front porch.

"This is vandalism and you have somebody that totally disregards the safety of the people around there," Tanner said. "It is also totally disregard what the flag represents."

He said he was "very concerned" because the fire could have spread to his home.

"It was a synthetic flag, so it just melted," he said.

He said he believed the man set the flag on fire, not out of protest, but out of stupidity.

"I don't think this was about burning an American flag. I think this is about, well, I can't get this unhooked so I'm just going to catch it on fire," Tanner said.

In Virginia, burning a flag with malice is against the law and can result in a misdemeanor criminal charge.

The charred flag pole was still attached to the home Wednesday afternoon, and CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said that detail could result in a felony charge.

"That makes it a much more serious offense because it could catch the house on fire and cause risk to the people inside," Stone said.

Tanner's neighbors called the incident troubling.

"The whole front porch could have caught on fire. Now, knowing it was one of my neighbors, my house could have caught on fire. So it could have been a really bad situation," neighbor Joseph Lawson said. "You got to know how controversial that is, whether he's trying to make a protest or not."

Witnesses can email news tips and photos here.

Anyone with information can call Richmond Police at 804-646-5100 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.