Federal investigators were dispatched to Baltimore almost immediately after rioting and unrest shook the city last April, and in the following months, charges were levied against several people, including for arson, theft and gun crimes.
No arson arrests were made the week of the unrest but investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were quickly brought in to investigate, according to Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.
“We talked with ATF immediately after the riots and we agreed it was important for the city that people who committed these crimes be held accountable,” he said.
The ATF investigators brought not only expertise in investigating arson and related crimes but also the manpower required to comb through video surveillance footage from throughout the city to track and identify suspects, Rosenstein said.
“What we found was a lot of these incidents were not isolated,” he said. “There was a group of people who were committing multiple crimes and fueling the rioting, not the peaceful protesting.”
Raymon Carter, who started a fire in the CVS pharmacy at Pennsylvania and North avenues, was sentenced to four years in federal prison in November after pleading guilty to a federal rioting charge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Some people were identified relatively quickly, Rosenstein said; Carter was identified by citizens after a reward was offered.
“We found that people were receptive to that,” he said. “There’s no public sympathy for people who burn down pharmacies.”
Federal prosecutors targeted significant incidents and identified the ones with strong evidence, particularly arson, according to Rosenstein. Investigations are still ongoing and more individuals may be charged, he added.
“There are a lot of crimes that were not prosecuted and people who were not caught but I think it’s significant that we’ve prosecuted the cases that we have because we made it clear there is a deterrent,” Rosenstein said.
Gregory Butler, for example, has been accused of obstructing firefighters by standing on and later puncturing a hose being used to extinguish the fire at the CVS. His case is still pending.
Rashad Robertson was sentenced to time served after confessing to possession of a prescription stolen from the looted CVS, according to Rosenstein’s office.
Donta Betts is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to creating an improvised explosive device using propane cylinders, charcoal and lighter fluid. Darius Raymond Stewart and Trevon Green face pending charges relating to commercial arson at other area businesses.
Federal investigators also looked into the May 4 incident where Robert “Meech” Tucker ran from police and threw a handgun to the ground, causing it to fire. Bystanders initially thought police had shot Tucker and pelted law enforcement with bricks and bottles at the scene.
Tucker pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and received a 42-month sentence.