Thursday, August 20, 2020

Fifth Defendant Faces Federal Charges For Alleged Role In Salt Lake City Police Department Vehicle Arson Case

 Defendant is an Airman First Class Stationed at Hill Air Force Base

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal complaint unsealed Wednesday charges a fifth individual with one count of using fire and explosives to damage and destroy a Salt Lake City Police Department patrol car during May 30, 2020, riots in Salt Lake City.  

Larry Raynold Williams, Jr., 22, of West Haven was arrested at his home Wednesday morning on the arson charge by the FBI and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force.  The Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) assisted the FBI.  According to the complaint, Williams is an Airman First Class in the U.S. Air Force.  He is stationed at HAFB in northern Utah.

During the afternoon of May 30, 2020, a peaceful protest in downtown Salt Lake City transitioned into acts of destruction, property damage, arson, and other criminal conduct. During the riot, a Salt Lake City police officer, driving a police vehicle, became boxed-in and immobilized by surrounding protestors.  Fearing for her safety, the officer fled from her patrol car. Her patrol vehicle was subsequently overturned, vandalized, looted, and then set on fire.  Video footage from the event shows individual rioters using fire and explosives to damage and destroy the police vehicle. Federal prosecutors in Utah have filed arson charges against five individuals allegedly responsible for burning the patrol 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.

According to the complaint, video footage from the afternoon of May 30, 2020, shows a white male, later identified by law enforcement as Christopher Isidro Rojas, standing next to an African American male.  This individual, subsequently identified by law enforcement as Williams, was dressed in a black Nike hoodie, black Nike sweatpants, black shoes, and a black gas mask.

Rojas was observed holding a blue cigarette lighter in his hands while Williams held a white combustible fabric material, similar to a tablecloth or bedsheet, according to the complaint.  Rojas used the cigarette lighter to ignite the fabric. Once the fabric began to burn, the complaint alleges Williams threw the material into the window of the overturned patrol car.  The burning material landed partially within the interior of the patrol car and partially on the street.

Williams was wearing a gasmask. Investigators subsequently identified 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, written in what appeared to be white marker, 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. 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.  He was issued an M50 gas mask by his unit for training purposes in March 2020. Markings on the mask are consistent with the markings applied at HAFB. On Aug. 13, 2020, the readiness squadron at HAFB conducted a general inventory check of equipment issued to Williams and other members of his group during an exercise.  According to the complaint, serial/lot numbers were documented for each inventoried item.  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 are in custody. Newbins and Rojas have been released on conditions of pretrial release. Previous complaints filed against Patton, Newbins, Rojas, and Richards have been consolidated in a one-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on July 23, 2020.

Complaints and indictments are not findings of guilt.  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. 

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