A man from Indiana has been arrested in connection with a firebomb that was thrown towards a police car while the Portland protests were in full swing last summer.
Malik Muhammed, 24, was arrested on Friday and charged with attempted aggravated murder, attempted assault in the first degree, attempted murder in the first degree, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device and other crimes.
Police say DNA evidence retrieved from an unexploded Molotov cocktail helped identify Muhammed.
The incident which happened during a Black Lives Matter protest on September 21 was documented by a Portland police officer who was sitting in a vehicle used to broadcast warnings and loud noise at protesters when the burning object came straight towards him.
Malik Fard Muhammed, 24, was arrested in Indianapolis, Indiana on multiple warrants, including attempted murder and other charges over two firebomb attacks
The officer jumped out of the car and found a beer growler made into a Molotov cocktail, with a burned rag stuffed into its mouth. The firebomb did not go off.
According to court records, that bottle produced key evidence that helped lead to charges against Muhammed who authorities said had come to Portland for protests.
It is one of the most serious court cases to stem from the prolonged protests that rocked Portland last year.
A previously secret 28-count indictment details how officers examined the unexploded firebomb.
A price tag allowed them to trace the beer growler to the store where it had been purchased.
Video of the incident was captured where a Molotov cocktail exploded when thrown at Portland Police and was then extinguished on September. 23, 2020
Portland police officers evade a molotov cocktail during unrest that followed the grand jury decision in Louisville’s Breonna Taylor case, in Portland, Oregon
Surveillance video showed Muhammed and his girlfriend buying growlers and bats, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Keven Demer said in an affidavit.
DNA samples from the unexploded firebomb had ‘an extremely strong comparison’ to Muhammed, Demer said.
Two days later, on September 23, during a protest at the Justice Center building in downtown Portland, another Molotov cocktail was thrown.
This one exploded when it hit the ground, creating a large fireball and spraying flames onto the leg of an officer, Demer said. Multiple videos show Muhammed throwing the device, he added.
Portland police walk past a fire started by a Molotov cocktail thrown at police
Muhammed allegedly threw a firebomb that scorched the uniform of a police officer on September 23, 2020 in Portland
Additionally, Muhammed was also determined to be responsible for throwing another Molotov cocktail which did not go off on September 21, 2020
‘Anyone who thinks they can get away with trying to murder police officers and destroy this city should think again,’ Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement announcing Muhammed’s arrest. ‘More investigations are underway.’
FBI agents apparently blended in with protesters in an attempt to pinpoint those who were violent.
During another protest the following month on October 11, FBI agents in plainclothes saw Muhammed, dressed all in black but wearing distinctive red-and-gray gloves, use a metal baton to break windows of the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University and several businesses, Demer’s sworn statement says.
The information was relayed to police officers. They chased the suspect, who allegedly ditched a loaded pistol, and was found with a loaded magazine in his pocket that fit the gun, authorities said. Unlawful possession of a firearm is another of the charges Muhammed faces.
A Portland police officer extinguishes the flames of a Molotov cocktail during unrest that followed the grand jury decision in Louisville’s Breonna Taylor case last September
Protesters demanding the end of police violence against black people take cover from smoke during a demonstration in Portland last September
Muhammed could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. He is being held on $3 million bail
Demer noted that Muhammed could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years if convicted and is a flight risk. He asked the court to set bail at $3 million.
Judge Leslie Bottomly denied the request and instead ordered that Muhammed be held.
Portland has seen demonstrations since George Floyd died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into the black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
Last summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days.
Demonstrations have at times attracted up to 10,000 people for peaceful marches and rallies around the city. But some protesters have turned to violence that’s been increasingly directed at the courthouse and other federal property with 27 riots declared in the space of four months.
Portland endured more than 100 nights of rioting during last summer’s protest over racial inequality and police brutality
There were more than 100 nights of rioting last summer which saw protesters tear gassed and fired upon with rubber bullets by the city’s police force
Some protesters threw bricks, rocks and other projectiles at officers, with police responding by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
At the time, the Trump administration sent federal agents to quell the unrest but the deployment had the opposite effect, reinvigorating protesters who found a new rallying point in opposing the federal presence.
Many of the federal tactical teams wore combat-like gear, but their deployment inflamed the situation, especially following footage of protesters being snatched off the street by federal agents and put into unmarked cars.
Mayor Ted Wheeler recently decried what he described as a segment of violent agitators who detract from the message of police accountability and should be subject to more severe punishment.
Inflamed by the arrival of federal officers and right-wing militias, including the so-called Proud Boys, the protests turned deadly.
Portland was been the epicenter of protests in 2020 with at least 200 nights of demonstrations, 30 nights of rioting and around 1,000 arrests. (File photo from July)
A demonstrator waves a U.S. flag in front of federal agents after tear gas is deployed during a riot in Portland in July