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One in custody after burning flag in central Fresno, fire investigators say

Flag burned in front of Fresno business

A suspect was caught on a video burning a flag at a Fresno business.
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A suspect was caught on a video burning a flag at a Fresno business.

Fresno Fire Department investigators identified Christopher Gustin, 32, as the person arrested in connection with burning a flag taken from a Fresno business on Aug. 20.

The incident was captured on video cameras belonging to Aquasports, near East Shields and North Blackstone avenues.

Footage shows a person identified as Gustin taking down a flagpole in front of the building and setting the flag afire on the side of the business. Other videos show Gustin apparently putting out the fire, but Gustin left the scene with it.

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Christopher Gustin Fresno Fire Department

Gustin was booked into Fresno County Jail on charges of arson and theft. Bail was set at $35,000.

Fire investigator Jay Tracy said he and his partner, Nathan Dansby, watched videos of the arson about “a dozen times,” and identified physical attributes of the suspect as well as distinguishing tattoos. The two canvassed nearby neighborhoods, including Lafayette Park, near Blackstone and Princeton avenues. Tracy said the park is a hangout for area homeless people — and the third person they talked to there turned out to be Gustin.

“This wasn’t any sort of protest,” Tracy said. “It was just a person being dumb.

“No one was hurt, but when you have something as iconic as the flag, it kind of hits people.”

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