Federal prosecutors have charged a man for allegedly tossing an “incendiary object” earlier this week at the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland, where law enforcement officers have been quelling the nightly unrest caused by far-left extremists.
The suspect, 18-year-old Gabriel Agard-Berryhill, appeared in court on Friday after turning himself in to authorities on Thursday, according to Oregon Live.
[He] told federal officers that an unknown man in a ski mask handed him what he thought was a spinner-type firework that would rotate with varied colors when lit.
He admitted he lit the device, described as the size of a piece of chalk, and threw it over the fence, according to Amanda Johnson, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
According to the prosecutor’s office, investigators identified the suspect by reviewing video and photographic evidence.
According to court documents, at approximately 11:50pm on July 28, 2020, security cameras at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse captured footage of a large incendiary object enter the building’s portico area and land near plywood sheeting affixed to the building’s façade. A few seconds later, the object exploded, igniting a fire near the building’s main entrance. Federal law enforcement personnel collected various items near the site of the explosion and sent them to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) laboratory for further analysis.
ATF investigators reviewed social media posts from the night of the explosion and located videos of the incendiary object being thrown. The individual depicted throwing the object, later identified to be Agard-Berryhill, was a young, Caucasian male wearing a green colored vest, camouflage pants, and a mask. Investigators observed the person in other protest-related videos posted online wearing the same vest and attempting to hold a shield in front of a naked woman.
The prosecutor’s office also noted that an online product review for a green vest contained a picture of a person matching the description of the suspect.
“I got this [vest] for my grandson who’s a protestor [sic] downtown, he uses it every night and says its [sic] does the job,” said the product review.
He has since been released until his next court appearance. If he is convicted, the arson charge can carry a minimum 5-year prison sentence and a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Amid nationwide unrest over the death of George Floyd, the city of Portland has held a steady stream of day-time protests that, by night, have become sources of violence against federal property and law enforcement officers.
“No legitimate protest message is advanced by throwing a large explosive device against a government building. Mr. Agard-Berryhill’s actions could have gravely injured law enforcement officers positioned near the courthouse, other protesters standing nearby, or himself,” said U.S. Attorney Billy Williams. “I applaud the ATF agents and U.S. Marshals Service deputies who worked quickly to identify Mr. Agard-Berryhill before he had an opportunity to hurt others.”
“The violent opportunists engaged in dangerous acts of violence, such as arson, need to realize there will be grave consequences,” said Russel Burger, U.S. Marshal for the District of Oregon. “Serious crimes of this nature go beyond mere property damage to the courthouse and endanger people’s lives.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the Trump administration and the state of Oregon have reached an agreement to scale back the presence of federal agents on the condition that Oregon State Police can quell the unrest themselves.
“And if they don’t do it, we will send in the National Guard and we’ll take care of it,” said Trump on Thursday during a press conference.
“These are people who are allowed to go forward and do what they have to do,” he said, adding that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown would be working to “clean out this beehive of terrorists” in the city over the next couple of days.