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RALEIGH, N.C. – A Fayetteville man was arrested today for taking part in the arson of Fayetteville’s Market House after an otherwise peaceful demonstration over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, turned violent, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced.
Charles Anthony Pittman, of Fayetteville was arrested by special agents of the ATF and is charged by complaint with one count of maliciously damaging property owned or possessed by an institution receiving federal financial assistance. Pittman will make his initial appearance June 8, 2020, by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers, II.
According to the complaint, on May 30, 2020, an otherwise peaceful protest in downtown Fayetteville turned violent when several individuals set fire to the Market House. A local television crew caught Pittman on camera showing a red gasoline container to the crowd below before he poured its contents throughout the floor of the second story. Pittman ran out of the Market House as the floor caught on fire with other individuals, including an employee, still inside. As a result of the fire, the Market House sustained charring and mass wood loss to the second story floor.
Earlier that same day, Pittman broadcasted a Facebook Live video while he drove around the Market House traffic circle. Pittman claimed to be scoping out the scene, as he discussed whether the Market House should come down. After noting the inaction of the peaceful protesters, saying they would just “barbeque and mildew,” Pittman promised the Facebook Live audience that he would be back. Pittman wore the same shirt in the Facebook Live video that he wore later at the Market House fire.
The count charged in the criminal complaint carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of seven (7) years, a maximum potential penalty of forty (40) years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina credited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Fayetteville Police Department (FPD) with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Rhoades and J.D. Koesters of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division are representing the government.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.