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Another man accused of igniting explosive, tossing it into federal courthouse in Portland, injuring U.S. marshal

Protesters clamor against police brutality for the 50th day in a row, on July 16, 2020, at Portland, Oregon's Federal Courthouse and are met with tear gas and "less-lethal" munitions and many arrests. (John Rudoff/Sipa USA/TNS)

An 18-year-old man is accused of tearing plywood off the front glass panes of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland and then lighting a fuse on an explosive before tossing it through the broken glass early on July 22, injuring a deputy U.S. marshal, according to federal prosecutors.

Isaiah Maza Jr. made his first appearance in the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse Monday afternoon on allegations of assault on a federal officer using a dangerous weapon and depredation of federal government property.

He’s the second 18-year-old since Friday who is accused of federal charges stemming from a firework or other explosive ignited at the federal courthouse during recent demonstrations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman described Maza as a “very dangerous man,” who was caught on video lighting the fuse, dropping the hand-sized explosive device inside the lobby of the courthouse “and then watching with his cellphone for the explosion.”

“This is a very vicious, very violent crime,” Sussman argued. “That conduct is exceedingly dangerous. He was out of control that night. There’s nothing to say he will continue to be out of control in the future.”

Maza was on pretrial release from a state first-degree criminal mischief charge at the time of the July 22 incident. Deputy U.S. Marshals arrested him on Thursday after spotting him near the courthouse, at Southwest Third Avenue near Main Street. He ran from officers and they chased him before arresting him, according to court records.

Agents from the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives interviewed Maza, who first denied any involvement but then admitted he had lit the device when shown a video of the incident, according to a federal affidavit.

Maza then said someone else had given him the explosive device and said he did not see anyone or any officers near where he had placed it and didn’t expect it would cause damage to the courthouse or harm someone, the affidavit says.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Susan Russell said Maza is working to complete credits to complete his high school diploma, after having previously attended Rosemary Anderson High School. He lives with his mom, has a 2-year-old child and works at Home Depot. She told the court he undergoes counseling for post traumatic stress and anxiety.

Sussman argued for Maza’s detention.

“This man needs to stay in custody,’’ Sussman argued. “Apparently being on release to the state is not enough to deter him.”

The explosion occurred as the deputy U.S. Marshal was exiting the courthouse threw the broken glass, Sussman said.

In a video shown to the court, the deputy “staggers and leans up against the side of the courthouse immediately after the large explosion,” and the explosion injured his leg, Sussman said. The marshal exited the courthouse through the broken glass because the front glass doors of the courthouse had been barricaded shut, Sussman said.

Maza offered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet and remain at home except for work, if he’d be allowed to be out of custody pending trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You said she was concerned that Maza appears to have stopped taking medication for mental health issues and questioned if his mother’s home is a good environment for him. She also sought more information on the pending state criminal mischief allegation.

“Without further information about those issues,” You said she didn’t feel comfortable releasing Maza from custody.

She invited Maza and her lawyer to return to court on Wednesday with more information.


© 2020 The Oregonian