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U.S. Air Force Airman Among 11 Rioters Charged For Flipping Patrol Car And Torching It

Salt Lake City, UT – A U.S. Air Force airman was one of 11 rioters arrested in connection with overturning a Salt Lake City police vehicle and setting it ablaze during a violent uprising in May.

According to court documents, the brazen attack occurred on May 30, as a Salt Lake City police officer was driving her marked patrol vehicle to work, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

As she approached the area of 400 South and 200 east, she encountered a violent mob that quickly converged on her vehicle, police said.

The rioters surrounded her car and started banging on her windows as she radioed for help, according to court documents.

The officer was able to escape from her patrol car before the mob pushed the vehicle over onto its roof, KTVX reported.

The crowd vandalized the cruiser before setting it ablaze, according to court documents.

“Since May 30, investigators and prosecutors have engaged in a determined investigation of those who were responsible for burning the police patrol car in downtown Salt Lake City,” U.S. Attorney John Huber said on Aug. 20, according to KTVX.

“Our intent has been to bring consequence to the lawlessness that we witnessed. While available video and photographs played a prominent role in the investigation, solid investigative efforts by agents and detectives made the difference in these arrests,” Huber added.

Video footage showed Christopher Isidro Rojas as he used a blue lighter to light a piece of white fabric being held by the man standing next to him, according to investigators.

The second suspect then threw the burning fabric into the overturned patrol vehicle, which was ultimately completely destroyed by the ensuing inferno, KTVX reported.

Investigators noted that the suspect who placed the burning fabric inside the patrol car was wearing a gas mask, according to court documents.

The mask he was wearing was an M50 Joint Service General Protective Mask with a label of “TRNG ONLY” on its attached M61 filter canister, KTVX reported.

Using that evidence and photographs that showed the suspect at the riot without his mask on, investigators were able to identify the alleged arsonist as 22-year-old Larry Raynold Williams, a U.S. Air Force Airman First Class stationed at Hill Air Force Base, according to court documents.

The M50 gas mask had been issued to Williams for training purposes back in March.

During an equipment inventory check at the base on Aug. 13, investigators learned that the lot number for one of the gas canisters that had been issued to Williams was identical to the number seen on the gas mask in multiple riot photos, KTVX reported.

Williams was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force with the assistance of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations on Aug. 19.

He is a member of the 75th Security Forces Squadron and was working as an entry controller at the time of the riots, according to the Air Force Times.

Williams entered active duty on May 7, 2019.

He and Rojas have both been charged with federal arson, as have fellow rioters Lateesha Richards, 24, Latroi Newbins, 28, and Jackson Tamowski Patton, 26, KTVX reported.

They face a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years if they are convicted.

“Lawful protesters don’t riot, and rioters are not protesters,” Huber told KUTV. “There’s a distinction here.”

At least six other suspects are facing charges in state court, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

They have been identified as Monico Isidro Romero, 31, Ian Nightingale, 18, Connor Peebles, 21, Julie Yasima, 26, Rhys Wisner, 21, and Folau Ofakikolokakal Mafi, 26.

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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.

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Avatar Written by Holly Matkin

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