Authorities were able to arrest a Pilsen man and charge him with “maliciously damaging, by means of fire, a vehicle used in interstate commerce,” on June 2, 2020. According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court, Timothy O’Donnell allegedly caught a police cruiser on fire on May 30, 2020.
What Did O’Donnell Do?
According to investigators, O’Donnell sauntered up to a Chicago police vehicle located in the 200 Block of North State Street. After he lit an object on fire, he placed it into the gas tank of the vehicle.
A witness was able to take multiple incriminating photos of this crime as it was happening. O’Donnell donned a Joker mask at the time, however, due to a picture of his neck tattoo reading, “PRETTY,” officers were able to identify him. The witness provided investigators with the pictures they had taken of O’Donnell.
Pictures of O’Donnell
In the photos, a man wearing denim and a Joker mask is seen with his hand touching the gas cap of the squad car. His other hand appears to be holding lighter fluid. A black man is seen holding a blue bandana towards O’Donnell.
A second picture shows O’Donnell wearing the joker mask sitting next to a light post rolling a cigarette. In the background flames are coming from the police car. The federal court records also have a photograph of O’Donnell in the Joker mask, squad car is ablaze in the background, and he seems to be looking at the camera. That is the picture that shows O’Donnell’s neck tattoo.
What the Police Found in O’Donnell’s Apartment
Viewing the pictures makes one think of the movie “Dark Knight Rises.” The eight-page document filed in court against O’Donnell also contains a video of the incident. Police found O’Donnell at his apartment located in the 700 Block of 19th Place. When officers searched his home they found a Joker mask.
According to prosecutors, O’Donnell waived his Miranda rights and admits it is him in the photos. O’Donnell is being charged with a federal crime because police vehicles, city buses, etc. all belong to the city government. At this time there are at least five people, including O’Donnell, facing federal charges connected to rioting and looting.
Cases like O’Donnell’s are being investigated as the riots continue, more arrests are expected to be made. The police are hoping to have more open and shut cases. At this time it seems as though O’Donnell has no remorse for his actions. O’Donnell and others like him will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
After O’Donnell’s Arrest
U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch issued a statement, after the arrest of O’Donnell, “Anyone involved in destructive behavior – such as setting fire to a police car – should know that federal law enforcement will use all tools available to us to hold them accountable.”
Lausch continues by saying that his department will continue to work with the Chicago Police Department and with the federal and state departments to apprehend anyone “engaging in violent crime.” At this time there has been no court date set for O’Donnell. Most believe that the case against O’Donnell will not take long to convict, especially with his confession.
By Sheena Robertson
Edited by Jeanette Vietti
CBS-Chicago: Timothy O’Donnell, Wearing Joker Mask, Charged With Torching Chicago Police Car During Weekend’s Protest Violence
NBC-Chicago: Man Wearing ‘Joker’ Mask Set Fire to CPD Squad Car During Protests, Authorities Say
Chicago Sun-Times: Man in Joker mask set Chicago police car on fire during George Floyd protests, feds say
WBBM: Feds Arrest ‘Joker’ Suspect After Police Car Fire, Say Neck Tattoo Was Giveaway
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of darrensboat’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License