Police release surveillance video of pride flag arson

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Police have released surveillance video of someone setting a pride flag on fire in Burlington last week.

Surveillance photo

Police released the video Wednesday, hoping the public can help them track down the arsonist. Our Erin Brown sat down with the couple as they watched the video for the first time.

"Wow, that's really awful," said Chris Vaccaro and Jimmie Searle, seeing the footage for the first time.

It's been 12 days since someone set fire to the couple's pride flag, on the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month.

They grappled with feelings of anger and sadness after seeing the damage and the remnants of their flag burned into their porch.

On Wednesday, those feelings came back when Burlington police released a surveillance video showing exactly what happened that morning. We invited the two to the WCAX newsroom to watch the newly released footage for the first time.

"There's the house. And there's the guy," said Vaccaro. "Doesn't even think about it. Knows what he's doing.”

"Doesn't even think about it. Knows what he's doing. Wow," said Vaccaro.

The clip shows a person in a hoodie strolling up to the porch and torching their flag, before walking away with no regard for the house.

"Detective John Stoughton was able to locate video at a nearby store and got really good footage of the individual purposefully striding toward the building, hesitating not a whit as he pulled out a device and lit the flag on fire," Burlington Deputy Police Chief Jon Murad said.

The couple says the hardest part of it all is the culprit knew exactly what they were doing.

"He didn't say, 'Oh look, here's a flag.' He walked right up to it like he knew it was there. He knew what he was going to do," said Searle.

"It just opens it up all over again," said Vaccaro.

When we first met with the couple, we asked what they would say to this person if given the chance. After seeing the surveillance video, we asked them the same question.

"What possessed you to be so inhuman?" said Vaccaro.

"Get help. Nobody should have that much hatred in their heart that they're willing to risk lives doing something so stupid. It's clearly a person that is really sick and needs help," said Searle.

Vaccaro and Searle say they plan to press charges once the person is caught.

Burlington police are considering this arson as a hate crime.

If you recognize these people or have more information on what happened, call Burlington police at 802-540-2288.