For Immediate Release
Pittsburgh Man Charged with Arson for Setting Fire to Unmarked Police Vehicle During May 30 Pittsburgh Protests
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A federal criminal complaint was filed today charging Devin Montgomery, 24, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives. During a May 30, 2020 gathering of protesters, Montgomery allegedly set fire to an unmarked Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP) vehicle near the Fifth Avenue entrance to PPG Paints Arena.
"Setting a police car on fire is a federal crime, and one that we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law," said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady. "This is part of our commitment to protect First Amendment rights. Peaceful protesters embody those rights and have the full protections of federal law. The people who choose to disrupt those protests with violence and destruction will face prosecution."
"The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continues to work diligently toward securing public safety," said acting Special Agent in Charge John Schmidt, ATF Philadelphia Field Division. "Setting fire to a law enforcement vehicle is never acceptable, even in these unprecedented times. The arrest of Devin Montgomery will undoubtedly send a message that violent acts will be investigated and prosecuted. ATF, with the assistance of our local and state partners in this case the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, is dedicated to protecting the public from violent crime."
"The vast majority of protests and protesters in Pittsburgh over the past month have been peaceful, and we are committed to respecting peaceful protesters' First Amendment rights," Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. "To the small group of people who choose to hijack the overall peaceful message of these protests: You will be held accountable. We will review all evidence and vigorously investigate any and all violence committed at protests through the Damage Assessment and Accountability Taskforce (DAAT). Simply put: Violence will not be tolerated, by us or any of our law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal levels."
The criminal complaint alleges that on the afternoon of May 30, 2020, a public protest was occurring in downtown Pittsburgh in the area of PPG Paints Arena following the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis Minnesota. At around 5:15 p.m., a crowd was marching down Washington Place toward Fifth Avenue. Upon reaching PBP Unit 3F04, numerous individuals began to inflict damage and access the interior of the vehicle. One of the first individuals to approach Unit 3F04 was a black male wearing a #84 Antonio Brown Steelers jersey, blue jeans and dark colored shoes. The man also wore a dark colored bandana type of face mask covering the lower portion of his face as well as a black beanie on his head. Shortly thereafter, the man can be seen on video next to the rear passenger door, standing next to a person dressed in all black whose face is covered with a mask, and who is wearing a lighter colored backpack. The man and the masked individual interact briefly with each other, as they each appear to be igniting items in their hands. Within seconds, the man in the Antonio Brown jersey and the masked individual each toss an ignited item into the rear passenger compartment of Unit 3F04, which results in an interior fire that eventually spreads and destroys the vehicle. The man can be seen quickly moving away from the unmarked Unit after setting it on fire. Other video footage from later that afternoon and evening captures the man in the Antonio Brown jersey walking in the downtown area.
On June 17, 2020, the PBP posted several photos of the man in the Antonio Brown jersey on the PBP Facebook page with a request for members of the public to come forward with information to assist in identifying him. On June 18, 2020, the PBP received tips from two separate individuals. Both callers identified the man in the Antonio Brown jersey as Devin Montgomery.
Investigators then obtained a Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s license photograph of Devin Montgomery. In late June, ATF Special Agents identified a possible girlfriend of Devin Montgomery and conducted surveillance on her residence. ATF Special Agents observed an individual dressed in green pants and a black short sleeve t-shirt exit this residence with his face clearly exposed. This individual was positively identified as Devin Montgomery.
The PBP receive federal grant funds in excess of $10,000 as required under the federal arson statute.
Montgomery was taken into federal custody this afternoon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He made an initial appearance by video teleconference today before Chief Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
If convicted, Montgomery faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaun E. Sweeney is prosecuting this case.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.