West Hills Man Arrested on Federal Arson Charge for Allegedly Starting Fire in Santa Monica Restaurant during Civil Disturbance
LOS ANGELES – A West Hills man was arrested this morning on federal charges alleging he started a fire that caused substantial damage to the Sake House by Hikari in Santa Monica on May 31.
Micah Tillmon, 19, was arrested without incident this morning by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and officers with the Santa Monica Police Department. Tillmon is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Tillmon was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint filed on June 25 and unsealed after his arrest. The complaint charges Tillmon with one count of arson, a felony offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, security video from the restaurant shows Tillmon removing “a red tube-shaped object from his jacket, which he placed behind the reception desk area of the restaurant before walking away. Within seconds of that action, smoke and fire appeared from the area….”
Investigators with the Santa Monica Fire Department determined that the fire was caused by red object that Tillmon allegedly placed in the restaurant, which is at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and 4th Street.
Tillmon was identified by detectives with the Santa Monica Police Department, who reviewed numerous security videos and social media posts. Tillmon was also linked to the fire when investigators uncovered a video showing his white Ford Explorer parking next to the Sake House four minutes before the fire started and then reversing across the street soon after the fire started, according to the affidavit. That same video allegedly shows the Explorer parking about 500 feet away from the Sake House, and Tillmon exiting the vehicle and looting a nearby business.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn Andrews of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.