Airman charged with federal arson for allegedly lighting Salt Lake City Police car on fire

National

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The 5th suspect arrested for federal arson of a Salt Lake City Police vehicle is an Airman First Class with the U.S. Air Force and stationed at Hill Air Force Base.

According to the Department of Justice, Larry Raynold Williams, Jr., 22, of West Haven was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force with the assistance of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

The arson occurred during the riots in Salt Lake City on May 30 after a peaceful protest downtown turned violent. A Salt Lake City police officer was driving her police vehicle and became boxed-in by surrounding protestors.

The officer was able to flee from her patrol car which was then overturned, vandalized, and set on fire.

Video footage from the event shows individual rioters using fire and explosives to damage and destroy the vehicle.

Police arrested dozens of individuals for various crimes and five individuals have been charged federally for their roles in the arson of the police vehicle.

“Since May 30, investigators and prosecutors have engaged in a determined investigation of those who were responsible for burning the police patrol car in downtown Salt Lake City. Our intent has been to bring consequence to the lawlessness that we witnessed. While available video and photographs played a prominent role in the investigation, solid investigative efforts by agents and detectives made the difference in these arrests,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.

In that footage, Christopher Isidro Rojas, who has also been charged with federal arson, is standing next to a man who was dressed in a black Nike hoodie, black Nike sweatpants, black shoes, and a black gas mask.

Rojas was seen holding a blue cigarette lighter while the man next to him held a piece of white fabric material, according to the complaint. Rojas ignited the fabric and the man with him threw the material into the window of the police vehicle.

The man next to him was wearing a gasmask which was later identified as the gas mask worn by Williams as an M50 Joint Service General Protective Mask. Clarified photographs of Williams wearing the mask revealed lettering on its attached M61 filter canister which stated, “TRNG ONLY.”

A lot number was also observed on the canister, according to the complaint.

Williams was also observed unmasked at the riot and law enforcement officers were able to use several photographs to identify Williams.

Williams was identified as an Airman First Class in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Hill Air Force Base and had been issued an M50 gas mask for training purposes in March.

On Aug. 13, the readiness squadron at HAFB conducted an inventory check of equipment issued to Williams and the lot number for one of the gas canisters assigned to Williams was identical to the number observed on the gas mask as depicted in pictures taken at the riot.

Williams will make an initial appearance on the arson charge at 3 p.m. Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead.

Federal arson charges in the case are pending against Jackson Stuart Tamowski Patton, 26, Latroi Devon Newbins, 28, Christopher Rojas, 28, and Lateesha Richards, 24, all of Salt Lake City, who were charged earlier. Patton and Richards remain in custody while Newbins and Rojas have been released on conditions of pretrial release.

Individuals charged in complaints or indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court. Arson carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison with a minimum-mandatory five-year sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office are prosecuting the case. Investigating agencies include members of the FBI’s JTTF, the Salt Lake City Police Department, the ATF and the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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