The 39-year-old man accused of setting a ballot box ablaze in Boston over the weekend during a year of heightened tensions about the election process was not trying to interfere with people’s ability to vote, prosecutors said.
Worldy Armand, who was taken into police custody Sunday night in connection with the arson attempt in Copley Square earlier in the day, was ordered held without bail late Monday, pending the outcome of a dangerousness hearing later in the week, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office announced.
In Boston Municipal Court on Monday, before moving to revoke Armand’s bail in another open case out of Malden District Court related to similar arson accusations, prosecutors requested the man’s attorney be allowed to ask for a mental health evaluation for him, according to a statement from Rollins’s office.
Judge Mark Hart Summerville denied the request, though, and the district attorney’s office moved to revoke the bail in the open case and request a dangerousness hearing, the statement said.
Later the same afternoon, a court clinician attempted to speak with Armand to conduct a competency evaluation. However, the defendant refused to speak, according to authorities.
Following the meeting, Summerville declined to send Armand to be evaluated at Bridgewater State Hospital, officials said.
While Armand did not appear to be trying to engage in voter intimidation, “the destruction of ballots is simply unacceptable,” Rollins noted.
“Although this individual appears to be emotionally disturbed without a deliberate or specific intent to intimidate or interfere with the voting process, the ability to vote without interference is central to our democracy,” the district attorney said in her statement. “No matter the intent of Armand when he set fire to these ballots, his actions strike a nerve in our society at a time of nearly unprecedented political divisiveness.”
Boston police officers and firefighters responded to the area of 700 Boylston St. shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday to find smoke coming from the Copley Square ballot box, according to Rollins’s office.
Prosecutors told the court the incident was captured by security camera, and images of the person accused of placing burning material inside the ballot box were distributed within the Boston Police Department, authorities said.
Officers on patrol in Back Bay located Armand wearing the same “distinctive clothing” worn by the suspected arsonist, according to officials. He was arrested on a warrant out of Ipswich District Court charging him with receiving stolen property.
Armand, who provided the address of a Boston homeless shelter at booking, is scheduled to have a dangerousness hearing Friday, the district attorney said.
“I’m grateful to the members of the Boston Police Department and the Boston Fire Department who responded to this incident and identified the individual believed responsible,” Rollins stated. “My office will remain in contact with the investigators and with state and city election officials to protect the rights of all voters in Suffolk County. We will move forward in our handling of this matter with the goal of protecting the rights, safety and wellbeing of every member of our community.”
The district attorney’s office strongly urged any voter who is worried their ballot may have been damaged or destroyed in Sunday’s arson attempt to contact the city of Boston Election Department at (617) 635-8683 or [email protected].
“Your vote matters. Please make it count,” she said.
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