Baltimore, Maryland –Raymon Carter, age 24, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to the federal crime of rioting on April 27, 2015, including the arson of the CVS Pharmacy located at 2509 Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William P. McMullan of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis of the Baltimore Police Department; and Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci.
“The most important aspects of this case are that Raymon Carter will be punished for participating in the riot and that ordinary citizens concerned about their neighborhood helped to catch him,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Federal law prohibits people from traveling across a state line or using a telephone to participate in a civil disturbance that involves acts of violence, and this case sends a message that we intend to use it. Anyone who considers participating in a riot should know that police, prosecutors and citizens will track them down and send them to prison.”
“Our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, and other federal law enforcement agencies will ensure that criminals who harm our community will be held accountable for their actions,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis
According to his plea agreement, on April 27, 2015, Carter used a telephone to discuss his plans to go to the scene of the riots that erupted across Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray. Carter walked to the area of North and Pennsylvania Avenues, in the vicinity of the CVS Pharmacy located at 2509 Pennsylvania Avenue, where he was captured on video watching the rioting activity around him, including rioters setting small fires.
Looters broke through the main doors of the CVS and began removing merchandise and pharmaceuticals. Surveillance video shows Carter entering the CVS at 5:28 p.m. Carter used an open flame to illuminate the pharmaceuticals on the shelves. At 5:30 p.m. the video shows Carter unsuccessfully attempting first to move, and then to open, the pharmaceutical safe.
Carter is then seen on surveillance video going to and from the southeast corner of the sales floor – which the investigation showed was the area of origin of the fire - three separate times between 6:15 p.m. and 6:19 p.m. Carter admitted that his intent was to start a fire and that he used paper products from that area of the store to set the fire. At 6:19:34 p.m., the third time Carter is seen going to that corner of the store, he moves out of camera view, behind the shelves. Carter’s efforts to light a fire were successful and at 6:19:57 p.m. a flash of light can be seen on the video. After the flash of light, Carter reappears on the surveillance video from behind the shelves and is seen running away from the area toward the CVS exit. Flames in the southeast corner of the store become visible on the surveillance video at 6:22:19 p.m. Fourteen seconds later Carter is seen walking towards the exit while looking back at the fire, and the looters are seen running toward the exit. No other individual is seen on the surveillance video in the area of the fire from the time of the flash of light until Carter exits the store.
The Baltimore Fire Department was called to the CVS at 6:28 p.m. When firefighters arrived at the store, heavy smoke was seen venting from the main entry doors and the roof. The Baltimore Police Department established riot lines in an attempt to control the crowds while the firefighters worked to extinguish the fire.
Carter was subsequently identified by citizens after the ATF released two still photographs from the surveillance videos to the media and announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s identification, arrest and conviction. On June 29, 2015, the ATF released a wanted poster for Carter and received a hotline tip on July 1, 2015 concerning Carter’s location. ATF agents located, and after a foot chase, arrested Carter. At the time of his arrest, Carter had little in his pockets except two black lighters.
The total loss for the building alone as a result of the fire is estimated at $1.1 million. As part of his plea agreement Carter will be required to pay restitution, with the exact amount of restitution to be determined at sentencing.
Carter and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Carter will be sentenced to four years in prison. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for November 17, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
The federal crime of rioting, governed by Section 2101 and 2102 of Title 18 of the United States Code, applies when a defendant travels across a state line or uses a facility of interstate commerce, including a telephone, to participate in a civil disturbance involving acts of violence.
The investigation into this and other arsons that occurred on April 27, 2015, is continuing. Anyone with information is urged to call the ATF hotline, 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473). ATF continues to offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any individual responsible for these incidents.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the ATF, Baltimore Police Department, and Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Sandra Wilkinson, who is prosecuting the case.