Man faces federal arson charges over fire at abandoned Seattle police precinct

Man faces federal arson charges over fire at abandoned Seattle police precinct
© Getty

A former Seattle resident is facing federal arson charges for allegedly setting fire to an abandoned police precinct last month as part of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest occupation, known as CHOP, U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said Wednesday. 

Isaiah Thomas Willoughby, 35, was arrested without incident at a Seattle residence Tuesday night. 

“This is the third case we have charged federally for the criminal acts that tainted otherwise peaceful protests.  Other crimes remain under investigation and may result in additional federal charges,” Moran said in a statement. “Those who worked to turn protests into riots will not escape accountability for their criminal conduct.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

According to a criminal complaint, a person in “distinctive clothing” was captured on surveillance video near debris piled next to the wall of the Seattle Police East Precinct, which had been abandoned as throngs of demonstrators took over the surrounding area. The person in the video appears to pour a liquid on the debris and then return with something he lights on fire and tosses on the pile, according to the Justice Department release. 

After the Seattle Police Department released pictures of the arson suspect, “various people” recognized him as Willoughby and said the “distinctive sweatshirt” came from a clothing line he represents. Willoughby also took steps to remove posts from social media accounts that may have linked him to the arson, according to the release. 

Arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. 

The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the Seattle Police Department. 

Willoughby is expected to make an appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon. 

The U.S. Attorney's office has charged two other people with criminal acts related to the civil unrest in May and June, according to The Seattle Times. Margaret Aislinn Channon is charged with five counts of arson for allegedly setting police vehicles on fire on May 30, and Devinare Antwan Parker is charged with possession of an improvised destructive device for the improvised firearm he allegedly brought to a protest May 31, according to the newspaper.