Gary Evan Matthew Working of Santa Barbara was arrested Monday night after witnesses called police, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.
Officers were called to the court building at 1415 State Street at about 6:30 p.m. after witnesses reported he was burning the flag, Harwood said.
“Upon arrival, the officers took … Working into custody and extinguished the fire with a fire extinguisher from one of the police vehicles,” Harwood said.
Working allegedly severed the rope adjacent to the flagpole that is used to raise and lower the flag by burning it with a lighter.
“Once the rope was severed, Working lowered the flag and walked with it westbound, dragging the flag on the ground,” Harwood said. “He then stopped in the parking lot of the courthouse and set the flag on fire.”
Working told witnesses that he “was in the war,” that he had nothing, and that he was now homeless, Harwood said.
Working also informed the investigating officers that he burned the flag because he was upset at the “Oval Office” and its lack of action in helping people, Harwood said.
He was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.