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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Man Indicted by Federal Grand Jury for Attempting to Burn Down Metropolitan Police Department Station

Defendant Created a Makeshift Explosive Out of Gasoline and Ignited It Outside of the Fourth District Police Station

            WASHINGTON – Jerritt Jeremy Pace, 39, of Washington, D.C., was indicted today by a federal grand jury, charging him with multiple offenses related to his attempt to burn down a police precinct, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin; Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Ashan M. Benedict; and Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Peter Newsham.

            Pace was arrested on May 29, 2020. On June 11, 2020, Pace was charged by Criminal Complaint with receiving an explosive in interstate commerce, using an instrumentality of interstate commerce to threaten the use of explosives, and attempted arson. On June 12, 2020, the Honorable U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather held Pace without bond pending trial. Today, a federal grand jury returned an Indictment against Pace charging him with three federal arson and explosives offenses.

            The Criminal Complaint and Indictment stem from an incident on or about May 29, 2020, when Pace announced on social media his intent to burn down a police station. Pace encouraged rioting against law enforcement and suggested that his followers go to MPD’s Fourth District Station, located at 6001 Georgia Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C., to burn the station and “riot with the rest of the nation.” That morning, around 6 o’clock, Pace filled a plastic laundry detergent container with gasoline and a wick and ignited it in front of the Fourth District Station. Although the physical building remained unharmed and no one was injured, the container exploded and burned on the sidewalk. Pace was immediately apprehended by an off-duty detective and police officer.

            Both the Criminal Complaint and the Indictment are formal accusations of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.  If convicted, Pace faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release.

            “While the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia acknowledges the First Amendment right of individuals to protest peacefully, conduct that poses a grave risk to law enforcement, peaceful protestors, and community members alike will be prosecuted,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin. “The quick investigative efforts of ATF and MPD thwarted a dangerous person’s attempt to use a makeshift gasoline bomb to potentially cause – in addition to property damage – serious bodily harm or death to law enforcement officers and members of our community.”

            “Today’s indictment is a testament to the dedicated investigative work of the ATF/DC Arson & Explosives Task Force, in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department and DC Fire Department. Swift identification of violent offenders is key to stopping criminal acts that can destroy property, harm people, and take lives,” said ATF Washington Special Agent in Charge Ashan Benedict. “ATF will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our communities and the officers who serve them.”

            In announcing the Indictment, Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin, Special Agent in Charge Benedict, and Chief Newsham commended the work of those who investigated the case. Finally, they cited 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. Attorneys James B. Nelson and Christopher A. Berridge, Paralegal Specialist Candace Battle, and Legal Assistants Peter Gaboton and Teesha Tobias.

Press Release Number: 
Updated July 7, 2020