Man accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at police cars in Seattle faces federal charges

Man accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at police cars in Seattle faces federal charges
Photo of a SPD patrol car on fire in downtown Seattle on May 30, 2020. (United States Attorney's Office)

SEATTLE — A 20-year-old Edmonds man was charged Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle with two counts of arson and two counts of unlawful possession of a destructive device for his actions at protest in Seattle in May.

Federal officials said Kelly Thomas Jackson was arrested Wednesday morning and is set to appear in U.S. District Court later today.

Jackson is accused of using Molotov cocktails to try to burn two police cars during a protest that turned violent in downtown Seattle on May 30.

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Officials said they had different videos showing Jackson throwing the Molotov cocktails and he was identified through an anonymous tip. Police also said a court-authorized analysis of cell-phone records placed him in the area at the time of the fires.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to work closely with state, local and federal law enforcement to prosecute those who turn protected speech into violent criminal conduct,” U.S. Attorney Brian Moran said in a news release. “Not every criminal act will implicate a federal interest, but where there is federal jurisdiction we will use our tools to hold law breakers accountable.”

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, they also learned Jackson had accessed information online on how to construct Molotov cocktails.

The first Molotov cocktail Jackson threw went into a police car and the second one bounced off a police car and exploded on the sidewalk outside of Nordstrom, officials said.

“These individuals are hijacking legitimate First Amendment protected activity. By investigating this violent activity, the messages of peaceful protests have a better chance of being heard,” said Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda.

Arson is punishable by a mandatory minimum five years in prison and up to 20 years in prison.  Possession of a destructive device is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

VIDEO: Protests turn destructive in downtown Seattle