An 18-year-old man made his first appearance in federal court Friday on an attempted arson allegation, accused of lighting and throwing a large firework Tuesday over the fence that struck and set on fire protective wood covering the entrance to the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse.
Gabriel Agard-Berryhill turned himself into authorities on Thursday.
Agard-Berryhill told federal officers that an unknown man in a ski mask handed to him what he thought was a spinner-type firework that would spin with varied colors when lit.
Agard-Berryhill said he was going to light it and throw it in the area of Southwest Third Avenue, but others told him that some people in the crowd have post-traumatic stress from tear gas being launched by federal officers and directed him instead to throw it over the fence towards the courthouse.
He admitted he lit the device, described as the size of a piece of chalk, and threw it over the fence, according to the affidavit.
Agard-Berryhill said he was shocked to hear the “concussive” sound that it produced and it scared him, the affidavit says. He told federal officers he didn’t intend to hurt anyone.
The incendiary device rolled or bounced to the base of protective wood covering that placed against the front glass entry and walls to the downtown courthouse, according to Amanda Johnson, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
About three seconds after the device entered the courthouse portico and rolled to the base of the wood, a large flash occurred, Johnson wrote in the affidavit.
Agard-Berryhill was partially identified through YouTube video that captured the clothing he was wearing, and a post on social media where his grandma had noted that she had bought the tactical vest he was seen wearing in photos from a recent night at the downtown protests, according to the affidavit.
“I got this for my grandson who’s a protestor downtown, he uses it every night and says it does the job,” grammaf wrote in her review of the vest with a photo of Agard-Berryhill.
U.S. Marshals contacted a probation officer from Oregon Youth Authority’s North Valley office, where Agard-Berryhill had been supervised for an unspecified felony offense, according to court records.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo allowed Agard-Berryhill to be released. He must not come within a five-block radius of the courthouse at any time of the day or night while his case is pending.
— Maxine Bernstein
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-221-8212
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