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US Airman arrested for setting cop car on fire during Salt Lake rioting, charges say

Photo purporting to show Larry Raynolds Williams Jr. during rioting in Salt Lake City, UT on May 30, 2020. (Office of the U.S. Attorney for Utah, photo/Released)
August 21, 2020

A U.S. Air Force member has been identified and federally charged with using “fire and explosives” to destroy a Salt Lake City Police Department patrol car during May 30, 2020, riots in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Airman 1st Class Larry Raynold Williams, Jr., 22, who is stationed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah was arrested Wednesday at his home in West Haven, according to a press release by the U.S. District Attorney’s office for Utah. Williams was identified along with at least four others in “using fire and explosives to damage and destroy the police vehicle.”

Video from ABC 4 News appears to show a glimpse of what may be Williams’ involvement in the arson attack. The rioting incident came amid widespread protests over the death of a Black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Authorities were able to identify the gas mask Williams wore, an Air Force issued M50 gas mask, to determine one of the suspects videotaped in the arson attacks was a likely member of the Air Force. With the assistance of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Hill Air Force Base (HAFB), the FBI, ATF and local authorities investigated and charged Williams in the arson attack. Williams was also observed unmasked at another point during the riots, further helping authorities identify him.

The Utah U.S. Attorney’s statement said “During the riot, a Salt Lake City police officer, driving a police vehicle, became boxed-in and immobilized by surrounding protestors.  Fearing for her safety, the officer fled from her patrol car. Her patrol vehicle was subsequently overturned, vandalized, looted, and then set on fire. Video footage from the event shows individual rioters using fire and explosives to damage and destroy the police vehicle. Federal prosecutors in Utah have filed arson charges against five individuals allegedly responsible for burning the patrol vehicle.”

The statement said Williams held a piece of combustible fabric while another man charged in the arson attack, Christopher Isidro Rojas, lit the fabric on fire with a cigarette lighter. Williams is then alleged to have thrown the burning material into the overturned police vehicle.

Williams was identified by a serial number on his gas mask.

The U.S. Attorney’s statement said “The serial/lot numbers were documented for each inventoried item. The lot number for one of the gas canisters assigned to Williams was identical to the number observed on the gas mask as depicted in pictures taken at the riot. “

Jackson Stuart Tamowski Patton, 26, Latroi Devon Newbins, 28, Christopher Rojas, 28, and Lateesha Richards, 24,  all of Salt Lake City, were also charged in the arson incident.

Another Air Force member, Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, was also arrested following an attack on police in June as civil unrest spread following Floyd’s death. Carrillo was charged with the ambush killing Santa Cruz County Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. Carrillo reportedly attacked with explosives and firearms and wounded two more officers from Santa Cruz, California.

Active duty U.S. Army reservist Andrew Lyman, U.S. Navy veteran Stephen “Kiwi” Parshall and Air Force veteran William Loomis were also arrested in June in connection with a bomb plot in Las Vegas, Nevada.