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Man arrested in connection with Pulse nightclub memorial fire

Police and fire officials in Orlando, Florida, are investigating after three banners honoring victims of the 2016 shooting were damaged in the blaze.

Police in Orlando, Florida, arrested a man Tuesday in connection with a fire that was started at a memorial site dedicated to victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Mark Anthony Henson, 64, was arrested on suspicion of felony criminal mischief for allegedly setting the fire that damaged the memorial, the Orlando Police Department said.

The onePULSE Foundation, which honors the 49 lives lost in the shooting and runs the memorial site, shared surveillance footage on Saturday showing an individual in a wheelchair light a fire on one of the memorial walls on Oct. 12.

Video showed the fire grow, smoke start to rise from the memorial wall and the person in the wheelchair leave the scene. 

Eventually the blaze dies down on its own, and a passerby stomps it out after noticing the embers. 

Mourners lay flowers at the Pulse memorial in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2021.DeFodi / via Getty Images

“Three Angel banners were burned along with other items within the affected area,” the foundation said in a statement. 

The foundation is asking anyone with information on the individual who set the fire to report it to police at at 407-246-2470. 

To locals, the fire is a hurtful act as the memorial is a popular gathering site where people pay their respects.

“This is a sacred space, and for anyone to put more hate into this space than has already been here — this area has suffered enough,” local resident Kate Teixeira said to NBC affiliate WESH of Orlando.

Gunman Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, on June 12, 2016, killing 49 and injuring dozens more. Mateen was killed in a shootout with law enforcement.