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Three Suspects Arrested for Arson, Looting During Violent Protests in Santa Monica

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By Lookout Staff

July 1, 2020 -- Three teenagers were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of setting fire to a sushi restaurant and looting seven Downtown Santa Monica businesses during violent protests in the beach city May 31.

Micah Tillmon, 19, of West Hills was arrested without incident by local and federal authorities Wednesday morning after security video from Sake House by Hikari, at 4th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, allegedly tied him to the arson fire.

Arson, looting suspects
Arson, looting suspects (Courtesy SMPD)

Police also arrested Gisselle Alexis Pinto, 19, and Mynor Pinto, 18, for looting. Stolen items linked to the looting were recovered during the arrest, police said.

The suspects were seen setting fire to the Sake House and looting at REI, Brandy Melville, Vons, Magicopolis, Salon Viva, Wasteland and the Shoe Palace, Santa Monica police said.

Tillmon, 19, was arrested without incident by local and federal authorities Wednesday morning after security video from Sake House by Hikari, at 4th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, allegedly tied him to the arson fire.

The video shows Tillmon removing “a red tube-shaped object from his jacket, which he placed behind the reception desk area of the restaurant before walking away," according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.

"Within seconds of that action, smoke and fire appeared from the area," read the affidavit filed in federal court.

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Santa Monica Fire Department investigators determined the red object caused the fire that destroyed the interior of the small brick restaurant.

Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Santa Monica Police Department. officers arrested Tillmon pursuant to a criminal complaint filed on June 25.

The complaint charges Tillmon with one count of arson, a felony offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years, said Thom Mrozek, the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney Central District.

Tillmon was identified by SMPD detectives after they reviewed numerous security videos and social media posts.

Looting, arson suspects

SMPD and ATF sent screen shots of three suspects and offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to their capture.

Investigators also uncovered a video showing Tillmon's white Ford Explorer parking next to the Sake House four minutes before the fire started, then reversing across the street soon after the fire started, according to the affidavit.

The same video allegedly shows the Explorer parking about 500 feet away from the Sake House, and Tillmon exiting the vehicle and looting a nearby business, according to the affidavit.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. States Attorney Shawn Andrews of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.

The Sake House was one of ten Santa Monica businesses that sustained fire or smoke damage during the looting spree that swept through Downtown Santa Monica virtually unchecked on May 31.

Damage assessments found that 225 Santa Monica businesses had general damage, such as visible broken windows and doors, and 76 had "visible evidence of looting."

There was graffiti damage on 121 buildings and 48 had other "vandalization."

On June 18, Santa Monica police announced the arrest of Amanda Toyono Van Duyse, 31, of Los Angeles for burglary, grand theft and burglary during an emergency ("Police Arrest Suspect in May 31 Looting Spree," June 18, 2020).

Police are currently looking for a suspect involved in setting an unmarked police car on fire next to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium during the violent protests ("Police Seek Suspect in Police Car Fire During Protests," June 30, 2020).

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect's arrest, police said.

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