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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Seeking Persons of Interest in Arson Cases

CHICAGO, Ill. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Chicago Field Division, the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Fire Department, in conjunction with the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois are seeking to speak to at least 19 persons of interest who could advance the arson investigations of several Chicago businesses and vehicles that were set ablaze between May 30 and June 3. Video footage of persons of interest can be found here.

At a press event today near the scene of a CPD Police vehicle that was set afire on May 30 at 100 South Dearborn, federal law enforcement, in partnership with the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and the United States Attorney described their efforts in identifying the persons responsible for 53 arsons that occurred in Chicago last month. Members of the specialized National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived in Chicago last month to work alongside the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, the United States Attorney's Office and various local, state and federal partners to investigate many of the fires set during the recent civil unrest in the Chicago metropolitan area.

"Many people who see these images will have important information that could help solve these significant arson cases," said John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. "The U.S. Attorney's Office, ATF and our other federal law enforcement agencies will continue to support the Chicago Police and Fire Departments in these important investigations."

"Partnership is key in investigating these arsons," said Special Agent in Charge Kristen deTineo, of the ATF Chicago Field Division. "The members of ATF's National Response Team bring specialized talent and resources to assist the local police and fire departments in determining who is responsible for setting these fires. The expertise of the local departments, with assistance not only from the NRT but also the community, will bring resolution to these investigations."

"Investigators combed through countless hours of surveillance video to narrow down these persons of interest," said Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown. "We now need the public's help to identify these individuals so we can seek justice for the business owners and members of our communities who were affected by these arson cases."

In addition to the NRT members who were activated, ATF's local field division of Special Agents and support staff who normally cover Northern Illinois and the surrounding states are working to support these investigations.

The NRT was developed to bring its expertise to local, state and federal investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant explosions and fire incidents at no cost to the state or locals. The NRT consists of three teams organized geographically to cover the United States and can respond within 24 hours to assist law enforcement/fire service personnel in on-site investigations. The NRT has been activated to scenes such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing and the Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon crash site, as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations. There have been approximately 860 activations since the inception of the NRT in 1978.

The teams are each composed of veteran special agents who have post-blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise, forensic chemists, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, accelerant detection canines, explosives detection canines, intelligence support, computer forensic support, and audit support. The teams work alongside local officers in reconstructing the scene, identifying the origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the fire. Additional resources include technical, legal, and intelligence advisers and a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the U.S. to provide logistical support.

View photos of people of interest

Chicago Field Division