Responses to the flag burning at El Toro high school

(Courtesy: OCSD Lake Forest)

Thursday, Feb. 6, at approximately 11:45a.m., the Orange County Sheriffs and Orange County Fire were dispatched to El Toro High School at 25255 Toledo Way in Lake Forest. The call was regarding a fire in the bed of a pick up truck. When deputies and firefighters arrived on campus, witnesses told authorities that an unknown man stopped behind a students truck and set fire to the two American flags hung up in the bed. When the man left the school, campus security cameras captured the man’s vehicle and license plate number. Later in the day while officers were patrolling the city, the car was spotted and stopped by police. The suspect admitted to setting the fire and was taken into custody that same day. 

The man was found to be a local from Mission Viejo, Benjamin Bauch, 29, was booked into Orange County jail, being held on three counts of arson, two felonies and one misdemeanor. He is being held on a $20,000 bail and scheduled to appear in court on Monday, Feb. 10, according to

Many comments on @ocsdlakeforest’s instagram post of the story noted how the student also was displaying a “TRUMP 2020” sticker on his truck.

Many students at El Toro high school and Saddleback college have been seen displaying American flags and some Trump stickers on their cars. With so much political tension in the world, some people are not surprised that this crime happened. 

“I support Trump, but I would never put a bumper sticker with his name on my car. That’s like asking for trouble. A lot of people hate him and I’m not about to have them do something to my car just because we disagree politically. I support him, but not enough where it’s worth damaging my car,” said Saddleback student, Marcy Cullen. 

Another student, Abraham Jimenez stated “I don’t know why that kid needed to have the American flag up in his truck. I think it’s dumb and obnoxious. I wouldn’t go so far as to burn it down, but like, relax guy, we get it you’re a redneck.” 

A Saddleback student, Cole Hansen, who also had a flag on their vehicle sided with the El Toro student as well. “It’s a symbol of patriotism. I’m proud of the country I live in. A lot of people risk their lives every day for our freedom and I want to respect that. We should be allowed to show our American pride without having to worry some jackass is going to come and disrespect our country and also cause a lot of damage to that guys truck. That’s just not fair.” 

Seeing both sides of the story, people should at least respect each other’s cars. Is it really worth the insurance claim?