A man who set fire to an occupied police precinct in Portland, Oregon, during the nationwide riots has been sentenced to five years in prison in a plea deal that will see him avoid a harsher sentence.
Gavaughn Streeter-Hillerich pleaded guilty to first-degree arson before being sentenced.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by The Epoch Times, Streeter-Hillerich was filmed along with five others looking at an overturned dumpster that had been placed against the wall of a beauty supply store in Portland on June 26, 2020. Streeter-Hillerich then lit something inside of a tire that had been placed on top of the dumpster. The lit material blew out of the fire, prompting him to pick it up and put it back in place.
As a person who chose to remain anonymous filmed the scene, Streeter-Hillerich kept lighting additional items as others placed them inside the tire.
At one point, the man pulled down his mask and talked to the growing group of onlookers. The video zoomed in on his face, which was lit by the glow of the fire, which was growing “significantly bigger,” according to court documents.
Streeter-Hillerich was soon seen preventing someone who tried to extinguish the flames.
He was later arrested. During an interview with a detective, he admitted he was at a protest and used a lighter to try to light the fire.
“He said he thought lighting the fire might help get his anger under control and that he was angry about police using tear gas. He said he believed the fire was going to go out because there was no air and that he was surprised when the fire went up the canvas awning. He said it had burned him and showed Det. Hopper a burn on his arm,” a police officer stated in the affidavit attached to the criminal complaint.
Streeter-Hillerich “intentionally damaged property owned by the City of Portland by starting a fire and thereby recklessly placing another person in danger of physical injury,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said in a statement.
The beauty supply store is adjacent to a Portland police building, which was damaged by the fire.
A lawyer representing Streeter-Hillerich did not return a request for comment, nor did the Portland Police Bureau.
A spokesman for Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler told The Epoch Times in an email: “The Mayor is passionate about protecting free speech and peaceful protests, but arson and other felony crimes that defile our city and impact businesses and employment are not free speech.”
After serving 60 months in prison, the defendant will be on three years of supervision.
Restitution to the city of Portland will be determined in the coming months.
The sentencing appears to be the first in the county for someone involved in the riots that erupted in Portland last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unrest was also seen in a slew of other cities across the United States, including Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York City.
Streeter-Hillerich still faces federal charges. He was charged in September 2020 with two counts of using fire to maliciously damage and attempt to damage a building housing the police bureau’s North Precinct and various private businesses by U.S. prosecutors. The charges stem from the same incident.
Streeter-Hillerich was arrested on those charges on Sept. 15 of last year but was released the next day by Magistrate Judge Jolie Russo. He was later charged for a separate incident after he allegedly kidnapped, assaulted, and strangled another person. He pleaded guilty last week to coercion and assault in exchange for the other charges in that incident being dropped, according to court records.
Court dates in the federal riot case were repeatedly pushed back by Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You. The judge delayed Streeter-Hillerich’s arraignment from Jan. 11 to March 11. Then, Russo delayed the arraignment again to May 10. Last month, she delayed it yet again to July 6.
Federal authorities stepped in to charge nearly 100 people last year who allegedly participated in protests and riots but have since dropped charges against over half of the accused.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon told The Epoch Times via email that the guilty plea in state court “is part of an agreement that will resolve both his state and federal cases.”
“As a result of his state guilty plea, we intend to dismiss our federal charges,” he added.