LAS VEGAS (AP) - Five people are facing felony charges of damaging a downtown U.S. bankruptcy courthouse during protests May 30 following the death of a Black man in police custody in Minneapolis, federal officials in Las Vegas said.
U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich labeled defendants Alejandro Avalos, Alexander Kostan, Reginald Lewis, Kelton K. Simon and Jeanette R. Wallace “agitators” and accused them of inciting and escalating violence, vandalism and destruction during demonstrations calling for racial justice following the police killing of George Floyd.
In a Thursday statement, Trutanich said that during the protests fireworks were ignited, walls were spray-painted with obscenities and foliage was set afire outside the courthouse on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Attorney William Brown, representing Avalos, declined Friday to comment about the case against his client, who pleaded not guilty Sept. 11 to a felony charge of depredation against U.S. property.
Attorneys for Kostan, Lewis, Simon and Wallace did not immediately respond to messages. Each faces a property depredation charge carrying a possible maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In separate criminal complaints and a news release referring to the five defendants collectively, prosecutors provided photos taken from security and social media videos that appear to show people trying to damage the Foley Federal Building.
Trutanich said a federal security officer inside reported that people in the crowd threatened him.
Avalos, 28, is accused of using a metal bar to break a courthouse window, and a criminal complaint alleges he also broke a glass display case and took items from a nearby pawn shop, leaving a blue metal bar on the floor.
Kostan, 21, and Lewis, 19, are accused of kicking courthouse windows.
Simon, 34, is accused of throwing a metal letter “N” apparently torn from the front of the Foley building against a window, and court documents allege he stole items from the pawn store.
Wallace, 24, is accused of throwing rocks and paint against a courthouse window.
Avalos, Kostan, Lewis, Simon and Wallace were arrested separately and each pleaded not guilty during arraignments. Each was freed without bond pending preliminary hearings of evidence in their cases.
The protests that night saw Las Vegas police use tear gas and crowds stampede several times as officers swept in ranks through downtown. Authorities reported that objects were thrown at a police barricade in the nearby Fremont Street entertainment district.
Hours earlier, police and the FBI say they arrested three Nevada men with ties to a loose movement of right-wing extremists and accused them of a conspiracy to spark violence as part of a “boogaloo” overthrow of the U.S. government. The case is pending.
Federal prosecutors said the three white men, each with U.S. military experience, were arrested while making gasoline firebombs with glass bottles and rags on the way to the downtown protest.
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