A Seattle man has pleaded guilty to charges of arson and possession of a stolen firearm in connection with violence that occurred downtown during massive protests following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Tyre Wayne Means Jr., who is originally from Georgia, faces a mandatory-minimum five-year prison term and a maximum of up to 20 years in custody when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones on June 11, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Means was charged in October after his arrest on allegations that he helped set fire to a Seattle police cruiser and stole an assault-style patrol rifle from another during tumultuous downtown protests on May 30, 2020.
A telephone message seeking comment from Means’ Seattle lawyer, David Hammerstad, was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon. Means remains in federal custody.
According to court files, a video captured Means lighting a paper towel and placing it in the back of a Seattle police patrol car parked outside Nordstrom on Sixth Avenue in downtown Seattle. Other persons in the crowd fed the fire with lighter fluid and other accelerants, and the vehicle was destroyed, according to prosecutors.
After that, Means was seen reaching through the destroyed rear window of a different patrol car and removing a rifle case, looking inside and then running from the scene carrying the bag.
Another surveillance camera, located around the corner from where the gun was taken, shows Means in a fight with another man. While they scuffle, a third man picked up the rifle bag and walked away. It was returned anonymously to police later that day, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say Means was identified by his distinctive clothing, jewelry and tattoos. Means has two felony convictions in Georgia and a conviction in Washington and is prohibited from possessing a firearm, prosecutors say.
Arson carries a mandatory-minimum five-year prison sentence with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years. Possession of a stolen firearm is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend a five-year sentence for that crime, the U.S. Attorneys Office said.