Feds charge eight people after violent riots in Pittsburgh end in mass destruction

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PITTSBURGH, PA- Eight people have been arrested in connection with damage and vandalism during protests that took place on May 30th in downtown Pittsburgh.

Most of the individuals indicted on charges were in some way connected specifically to the destruction of two Pittsburgh police cruisers that were set on fire during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. 

According to reports, when the indictment came back it revealed that the following people have been arrested:

George Allen, 31, charged with one count of obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. According to the indictment, Allen threw a projectile through the front passenger window of a police vehicle.

Nicholas Lucia, 25, charged with one count of obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. Lucia is accused of throwing an object that appeared to be an explosive device at uniformed police officers, which landed on an officer’s vest and then exploded when it hit the ground.

Raekown Blankenship, 24, charged with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder. He damaged an unmarked police car by hitting, kicking, and stomping it. He also threw a projectile into the windshield and poked and struck multiple police horses.

Devin Montgomery, 24 and Brandon Benson, 29, charged with malicious destruction or damage by fire of a vehicle of an organization receiving federal financial assistance and bank burglary. They damaged and destroyed a police cruiser and are accused of entering and attempting to enter the Dollar Bank with the intent to take property, money, or a thing of value.

Christopher West, 35 and Da’Jon Lengyel, 22, are facing a four-count indictment. They set a police vehicle on fire and damaged the vehicle by hitting, kicking, and stomping on it.

Andrew Augustyniak-Duncan, 25 of Carnegie, charged with one count of obstruction of law enforcement during civil unrest. He threw projectiles at several police officers. 

Accounts from that weekend of protests claim that the protests going through downtown carried on peacefully for the majority of the afternoon, but turned violent after several people began damaging a marked police SUV and an unmarked commander’s SUV. Both SUV’s were severely vandalized and eventually set on fire.

However, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a statement:

“Throwing IEDs and bricks at police officers, throwing projectiles at and striking police horses, and setting police cruisers on fire are not the protected First Amendment activities of a peaceful protest. They are criminal acts that violate federal law.”

Brady called those accused of sparking the violence during that weekend’s protest “agitators” who hijacked a lawful protest and undermined a message of equality with one of destruction.

Michael Christman, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office vowed to continue making arrests when demonstrators spark violence.

He said:

“We are not done. We will continue to use all of our investigative resources to find each person who chose to start a violent confrontation.”

According to court documents, originally, 46 people were arrested from the May 30th protests. However, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala’s offices dropped charges against 39 of them. 

Two days after the May 30th protest, dozens more were arrested during a protest that turned violent in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood. Pittsburgh Public Safety Director said:

“The lawlessness we saw on May 30th cannot be tolerated.”

All eight of the individuals who have been indicted also face state charges. 

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Here is an article from Law Enforcement Today on the May 30th protests in Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh Police recently released photos of a suspect that they say was involved in acts of criminal damage toward an unmarked police vehicle during protests that occurred on May 30th.

Authorities are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the alleged vandals.

It seems that the “peaceful” protests linked to the passing of George Floyd keep getting reported as having been “hijacked” when they evolved into criminal acts of damage, vandalism and violence.

While we’re a month removed from the May 30th protest that happened in Pittsburgh (and numerous other cities), authorities are still trying to catch up with all the criminal activity that happened during the riots.

Feds charge eight people after violent riots in Pittsburgh end in mass destruction
Vandalism suspect – Pittsburgh Police

The suspect featured in the photos is alleged to have aided in helping destroy an unmarked police vehicle and assisting rioters in burglarizing local businesses during the protests that transpired in Pittsburgh on May 30th.

Feds charge eight people after violent riots in Pittsburgh end in mass destruction
Vandalism suspect (2)- Pittsburgh Police

In the photos, the suspect can be seen wearing a distinct shirt blasted with the words “free at last”. Although, if police catch up with him, that may not be the case for the suspect.

Feds charge eight people after violent riots in Pittsburgh end in mass destruction
Vandalism suspect (3)- Pittsburgh Police

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich noted that the assessed damage from those riots saw 71 businesses vandalized and looted and resulted in over a dozen police officers being injured.

Feds charge eight people after violent riots in Pittsburgh end in mass destruction
Vandalism suspect (4)- Pittsburgh Police

The Damage Assessment and Accountability Taskforce is currently tasked with trying to piece together all the evidence related to the riots that kicked off in May of this year, which hosts resources from both state and federal agencies reviewing the evidence from these riots.

Anyone with information on this suspect is asked to please call 412-323-7800 and specifically request the Damage Assessment and Accountability Taskforce. People can also submit tips via email at [email protected]

 

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