A Tacoma man with ties to Seattle has been charged with arson in federal court after agents say he set a small fire at the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct during the CHOP occupation on Capitol Hill.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and arrested Isaiah Thomas Willoughby, 35, on an federal arson charge that could send him to prison for up to 20 years if he’s convicted.
Willoughby is accused of being the man in a bright yellow hoodie captured on video attempting to set fire to a pile of debris outside the abandoned police precinct early on June 12.
According to the complaint and a news release from U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, the suspect was recorded pouring a liquid onto the pile and setting it ablaze. The fire was quickly doused by other protesters, who followed Willoughby and took his photograph. Police later used it to track him down, according to the charges.
Moran, in a news release, said Willoughby’s prosecution is the third federal case filed in Seattle stemming from criminal acts that occurred during ongoing protests downtown and on Capitol Hill as Seattle residents joined in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the May 25 videotaped death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Moran said other investigations are ongoing.
“Those who worked to turn protests into riots will not escape accountability for their criminal conduct,” the U.S. attorney said.
According to the charges, Willoughby was recognized by a distinctive brand marking on clothing he was wearing. Police say it belongs to a clothing line, called “Sneaker Warz,” that Willoughby purportedly represents on social media and as an influencer.
Using photographs taken by others at the CHOP — the so-called Capitol Hill Occupied Protest — and tips from others, including Willoughby’s father, aunt and uncle — police identified Willoughby and allege he had taken steps to remove potentially incriminating posts from his social media accounts.
The charges allege that the Police Department sent an undercover detective into the CHOP to photograph damage to the East Precinct.
The charges also allege that Willoughby had a grudge against Seattle police at the precinct for his treatment during an earlier arrest.
He is expected to make an appearance in federal court later Wednesday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged two other people with criminal acts related to the civil unrest in May and June 2020. Margaret Aislinn Channon is charged with five counts of arson for allegedly setting police vehicles on fire the evening of May 30. Devinare Antwan Parker is charged with possession of an improvised destructive device for the improvised firearm he allegedly brought to a protest on May 31.