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Federal Officer Wounded After Rioter Detonates Explosive Device Inside Portland Courthouse

Portland, OR – A deputy U.S. Marshal suffered injuries to both legs after a rioter detonated an explosive device inside the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, according to prosecutors.

Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams announced on Tuesday that 18-year-old Portland resident Isaiah Maza has been arrested on charges of willfully damaging federal property and assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon.

The attack occurred in the early morning hours of July 22, when Maza and several other rioters allegedly began ripping plywood off of the front of the federal courthouse, according to Williams.

The protective plywood had been affixed to the building in an effort to protect the glass façade that had already been damaged during the past 10 weeks of nightly rioting.

“After the group successfully removed the plywood sheeting, Maza made multiple attempts to kick in the window, struck it with a metal object, and repeatedly pounded on it with what appeared to be a hammer,” Williams said.

The mob managed to tear down the entire wooden protective structure while another rioter successfully busted out a courthouse window.

According to investigators, Maza then walked over to the shattered window with a “cylindrical object” in his hand.

He allegedly proceeded “to light a fuse connected to the object and place it inside the broken window,” Williams said.

Moments later, the device exploded as federal officers were attempting to exit the courthouse through the broken window.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman, they were unable to leave through the front doors because rioters had barricaded them inside, The Oregonian reported.

A deputy U.S. Marshal suffered injuries to both of his legs due to the blast, Williams said.

Sussman said the attack was captured on video, according to The Oregonian.

The footage showed the injured deputy as he staggered and leaned up against the side of the building “immediately after the large explosion,” according to prosecutors.

Sussman described Maza as a “very dangerous man,” and noted that he was seen “watching with his cellphone for the explosion” after he tossed the incendiary device into the courthouse.

Federal officers spotted Maza less than a block away from the courthouse on July 31, at which point he allegedly attempted to escape from them on foot, Williams said in the press release.

Maza was apprehended and placed under arrest several blocks later.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of the assault charge.

The investigation into the attack is being handled by the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Maza made his initial appearance on Monday at the courthouse he allegedly bombed, The Oregonian reported.

According to investigators, he was already out on pretrial release for a pending state charge of first-degree criminal mischief when he carried out the July 22 attack.

“This is a very vicious, very violent crime,” Sussman said during the court hearing on Monday. “That conduct is exceedingly dangerous. He was out of control that night. There’s nothing to say he will continue to be out of control in the future.”

After his arrest, Maza initially claimed to have no knowledge of the bombing, The Oregonian reported.

He allegedly confessed to his role after being shown the video footage of the incident.

According to investigators, Maza claimed that someone gave him the explosive device and that he had no idea it could potentially injure anyone or cause damage to the federal courthouse.

“This man needs to stay in custody,” Sussman told the court, according to The Oregonian. “Apparently being on release to the state is not enough to deter him.”

Maza’s public defender, Susan Russell, said that he is the father of a two-year-old child and works at a Home Depot store.

He is also working on obtaining his high school diploma, Russell said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You said she wanted to know more about the pending state charge against Maza, and added that she was concerned about his home environment, The Oregonian reported.

You noted it did not appear that the suspect has been taking medication for his mental health issues.

She ordered that Maza be held at least until Wednesday, when his attorney will be given the opportunity to present “further information” about the concerns You raised, The Oregonian reported.

According to local reporter Andy Ngo, Maza is friends with another accused courthouse firebomber, 18-year-old Gabriel “Rico” Agard-Berryhill.

Agard-Berryhill was arrested after his 69-year-old grandmother, Karla Fox, called him out on Twitter after she watched a video of him throwing a Molotov cocktail against the wall of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse.

“I believed all his stories,” Fox told the New York Post regarding her grandson. “He said he was just hanging out at Riot Ribs [an anarchist food co-op] and doing peaceful things.”

The attack occurred at approximately 12:12 a.m. on July 28, according to a Portland Police Bureau (PPB) press release.

The bomb “burst into a fireball when it struck the building causing a report to be heard and felt more than a block away,” according to police.

Video footage of the attack showed the suspect hurling the device over the protective fence before it slammed into the courthouse door, the New York Post reported.

Fox, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, said that when she watched the footage, she recognized Agard-Berryhill because she had purchased the distinctive olive-colored vest he was wearing in the firebombing video.

The $26, non-bulletproof vest is emblazoned with the word “ICONS,” according to the New York Post.

“I bought the vest for him after he found one online after getting hit with rubber bullets the night before at the protest,” Fox told the paper.

Fox posted a photo of her grandson wearing the vest as part of a review on the Hibbett clothing site.

“I got this for my grandson who’s a protester downtown, he uses it every night and says it does the job,” the review read, according to the New York Post.

Fox said she had no idea her grandson was involved in the violent nightly riots that have been taking place downtown for the past 10 weeks.

“I don’t condone any of this,” Fox told The Post. “I am amazed at all of these events.”

After a relative contacted her about the video, Fox took to Twitter to share her thoughts about her grandson’s actions.

“This is my only grandson, I love him to death, and didn’t know he was going to do such a bad thing, I had been posting several things about the antifa and BLM, he knows I am against those riots bigtime … he chose his poison,” she wrote under her Twitter handle, @TRUMPSGIRL2020.

In a series of text messages to the New York Post on July 30, Agard-Berryhill said that he had not been contacted by law enforcement in connection with the firebombing.

“The device I’ve been accused of allegedly throwing was allegedly given to me by an unknown protestor with full face coverings,” he told the paper. “I was allegedly told that it was a strobe firework that wouldn’t damage the building or harm anyone around it.”

Agard-Berryhill contacted his probation officer later that night and said he wanted to surrender, the New York Post reported.

He allegedly told investigators that someone had given him an object that had “yellow cardboard packaging with blue stripes, was the size of a small ‘V8’ can, and had a green fuse,” according to an affidavit filed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on a charge of felony arson, but was subsequently released without bail.

He faces a minimum of five years in prison if he is convicted of the charge against him.

“No legitimate protest message is advanced by throwing a large explosive device against a government building,” Oregon District U.S. Attorney Billy Williams told the New York Post. “Mr. Agard-Berryhill’s actions could have gravely injured law enforcement officers positioned near the courthouse, other protesters standing nearby, or himself.”

According to Fox, her grandson asked her in a text message to delete the picture she posted of him wearing the “ICON” vest, as well as the product review she wrote.

She said Agard-Berryhill was convicted of a felony charge as a juvenile and is currently on probation, the New York Post reported.

He also served two years at the Rogue Valley Youth Correction Facility, Fox said.

“I love my grandson and pray for him to get the help he needs,” she told the New York Post.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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