Man Allegedly Set Fire to Stores During Riots in Wake of Floyd's Death

Man Allegedly Set Fire to Stores During Riots in Wake of Floyd's Death
Richard Rubalcava in a file mugshot. (Wake County Jail)
Zachary Stieber

The same man was responsible for two different fires set during riots in North Carolina in the wake of George Floyd's death, according to a new indictment.

Richard Rubalcava, 26, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

According to a criminal complaint, the Raleigh resident was captured on video surveillance entering a Dollar General in the city late May 30. Rubalcava entered and re-entered the store numerous times, stealing items from inside during each trip.

Video showed the man setting fire to miscellaneous items and fleeing the shop afterwards.

On the same day, video surveillance showed Rubalcava entering a restaurant called Budacai three times. He stole the cash register before setting a fire.

The defendant admitted to officers that he set the fire in the restaurant.

He faces two counts of maliciously damaging or destroying, or attempting to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building or other real or personal property affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Each count carries at least five years, and up to 20 years, in prison, along with a fine of up to $250,000.

Widespread violence took place in Raleigh in late May after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. "Countless" small businesses were damaged, Mayor Mary Ann-Baldwin said in a statement on May 31.

"Downtown has suffered significant damage, as a result, including broken windows, looting, graffiti, and fires," Bill King, president of the Downtown Raleigh Association, said a few days later.

"Compounded by the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 crisis, Raleigh, like so much of this country, has many people and businesses deeply affected and hurting right now."

Dozens were arrested for arson and other crimes.

Rubalcava was arrested last month. He was initially charged with first-degree arson and felony inciting a riot.