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Press Release

California Man Sentenced to Four Years in Federal Prison for Arson of Northwest Restaurant and Assault on a Police Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Went on Violent Crime Spree in February 2019

            WASHINGTON – Ryan Jaselskis, 24, of Northridge, CA, was sentenced yesterday to 48 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release for arson at the Comet Ping Pong Restaurant in Northwest, and for attacking a Park Police Officer at the Washington Monument last year, announced Timothy J. Shea, United States Attorney for the District of Columbia; Ashan Benedict, Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD); Gregory Dean, Chief of the D.C. Fire Department; and Gregory T. Monahan, Acting Chief of the United States Park Police (USPP).

            Jaselskis pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of arson and one count of assault on a federal law enforcement officer on December 17, 2019. He was sentenced by the Honorable Judge Timothy Kelly.

            “Arson is a serious crime, endangering firefighters who respond to the scene and the general public who are exposed to this danger, said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea.  “This defendant has also been convicted of assaulting a police officer, a crime we will not tolerate in the District of Columbia.”

            According to the government’s evidence, on the evening of January 23, 2019, the defendant walked into the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in the 5300 block of Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., carrying a bag containing lighter fluid.  He walked to the back bar area and doused the curtains with lighter fluid and ignited them, causing a fire.  As the flames burned up the curtains towards the ceiling, the defendant left the restaurant.  A restaurant patron and two kitchen employees were able to extinguish the fire after the defendant departed the restaurant.  The defendant was captured on video surveillance wearing a distinctive blue jacket with white sleeves and red trim.

            Less than two weeks later, on Monday, February 4, 2019, United States Park Police officers encountered the defendant inside the fenced area at the Washington Monument.  The defendant was wearing the distinctive blue jacket with white sleeves and red trim.  When the officers asked the defendant to stand, he jumped up and began fighting officers.  During the struggle, the defendant struck one of the officers in the nose, drawing blood. The officers were eventually able to detain the defendant.  In addition to the bloody nose, the officer suffered a cut on his left hand, and scrapes to both legs. 

            The Comet Ping Pong Restaurant had previously been the target of an attack in 2016 when an individual entered the dining room with a rifle and opened fire. 

            In announcing the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Shea, SAC Benedict, Chief Newsham, Chief Dean, and Acting Chief Monahan commended the work of the MPD officers, ATF agents, and D.C. Fire Marshals who investigated the case. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Floyd and Legal Assistant Kate Abrey.

Updated May 1, 2020

Press Release Number: 20-062