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Press Release

Maryland Man Charged with Arson in Federal Court for Igniting Police Cars on Fire Outside of the United States Supreme Court

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Suffered Burns During Incident

            WASHINGTON – Cody Michael Tarner, 23, of Hagerstown, Maryland, was indicted by a federal grand jury with multiple offenses related to his burning of two police cars and the attempted burning of a third police vehicle, announced Michael R. Sherwin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and Matthew R. Alcoke, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington Field Office Counterterrorism Division

            On September 8, Tarner was indicted for Arson and Destruction of Government Property.  On August 17, 2020, the Honorable Judge G. Michael Harvey held Tarner without bond pending trial.

            The indictment stems from an incident on July 15, 2020, when Tarner poured a liquid from a gas can onto three Supreme Court Police vehicles igniting two of the vehicles.  This also resulted in Tarner being engulfed in flames and suffering severe burns to himself.  A Supreme Court Police Officer immediately rendered first aid to Tarner. Tarner was subsequently hospitalized and was brought to court for his initial appearance on August 13, 2020, when he was released from the hospital.  Of the three police vehicles, one was completely burned, one was damaged, and the third did not catch fire.

            An indictment is a formal finding by a grand jury that there is probable cause that the defendant committed the stated crimes; it is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

            “The actions taken by this individual destroyed federal property and were heinous and could have resulted in the loss of lives,” said Acting United States Attorney Michael R. Sherwin. “In addition, members of law enforcement were targeted and this type of action will never be acceptable as our office will continue to prosecute crimes such as this to the fullest extent of the law.”

            “The attempted destruction of federal property will not be tolerated,” said Matthew R. Alcoke, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office’s Counterterrorism Division. “The FBI is committed to quickly responding with our partners at The Supreme Court Police, U.S. Capitol Police, and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force to diminish any potential risk to the public and government facilities in these situations.”

            In announcing the charges, Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin and Special Agent in Charge Dawson commended the work of those who investigated the case, including FBI, Supreme Court Police, as well as the United States Capitol Police, who provided valuable assistance.  This case is being investigated by the Violent Crime and Narcotics Trafficking Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Updated September 16, 2020

Press Release Number: 20-109