A Pittsburgh man was arrested Tuesday on federal arson charges after he reportedly set fire to an unmarked police car during protests and riots in May.
Officials allege 24-year-old Devin Montgomery and an unidentified individual who put the vehicle outside PPG Paints Arena on fire on May 30.
Riots and demonstrations have spread to numerous cities in the United States after a cop was caught on tape with his knee on the neck of a man later identified as George Floyd.
The protest started with about 1,000 people marching to honor George Floyd.
As a smaller crowd marched down Washington Place toward Fifth Avenue, it surfaced a line of Pittsburgh police officers in riot gear, a criminal complaint claimed.
The unmarked car was parked on a curb together with several marked police cars on Washington Place. The officers “chose to leave the area rather than engage in a physical confrontation with such a large crowd,” the complaint said. After police drove away, the unmarked vehicle was the only one there.
Earlier in the protest and riot, a marked car also was burned.
In the later incident, footage revealed the crowd moved down Washington Place toward Fifth Avenue, and “numerous” individuals started to attack the police vehicle, the complaint said. Officials identified Mr. Montgomery as a man wearing an Antonio Brown Steelers jersey, light blue jeans, a black bandanna face mask, and a black beanie.
Mr. Montgomery can be observed opening the rear passenger door. Then, along with an unidentified person dressed in black, Mr. Montgomery is seen igniting an item in his hand. Seconds later, the pair throw the items into the car and a fire starts, the complaint showed.
After Pittsburgh police posted photos on social media and asked the public to help identify the person in the jersey, two anonymous tipsters identified the man as Devin Montgomery.
In late June, the residence of a “possible girlfriend” of Mr. Montgomery, in the Hill District, came under surveillance by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the complaint noted. The agents saw Mr. Montgomery and identified a circular, black tattoo on his left elbow matching the tattoo shown in images from the protest.
“Setting a police car on fire is a federal crime, and one that we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” U.S. Attorney Scott Brady wrote. “This is part of our commitment to protect First Amendment rights. Peaceful protesters embody those rights and have the full protections of federal law. The people who choose to disrupt those protests with violence and destruction will face prosecution.”
Montgomery was arrested Tuesday and charged with malicious destruction of property by making use of fire or explosives.