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Press Release

Chicago Man Arrested on Federal Arson Charge for Allegedly Setting Fire to Chicago Police Vehicle

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A Chicago man was arrested today on a federal arson charge for allegedly setting fire to a Chicago Police Department vehicle this past weekend.

TIMOTHY O’DONNELL placed a lit object into the gas tank of the marked police vehicle while it was parked in the 200 block of North State Street in downtown Chicago on Saturday, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  The vehicle ignited in flames.  At the time, Chicago Police officers were in the area investigating reports of various malfeasances and unrest.  O’Donnell set the fire while wearing a “joker” mask that partially covered his face, the complaint states.

The complaint charges O’Donnell, 31, with one count of arson.  Federal authorities arrested O’Donnell this afternoon and carried out a court-authorized search of his residence.  An initial appearance in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.

The complaint and arrest were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James P. Durkin and Rajnath Laud.

“Anyone involved in destructive behavior – such as setting fire to a police car – should know that federal law enforcement will use all tools available to us to hold them accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch.  “We will continue to work with the Chicago Police Department and our federal and state partners to apprehend and charge arsonists and others engaging in violent crime.”

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  The charge in the complaint is punishable by a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 20 years.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Updated June 2, 2020

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