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Tacoma woman charged with burning 5 Seattle police vehicles during protests

The parked SPD vehicles were set on fire May 30 during protests the followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis
Police block the street during a protest against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 in the custody of Minneapolis Police, in Seattle on May 30, 2020.Jason Redmond / AFP - Getty Images

A Tacoma, Washington, woman accused of setting fire to five Seattle police cars during protests there late last month was arrested Thursday.

Margaret Aislinn Channon, 25, who officials say burned the parked vehicles May 30, has been charged with five counts of federal arson, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington said.

"This defendant was captured by multiple cameras using an accelerant, lit like a blowtorch, to start fires in five vehicles — putting the public at risk and creating the very real possibility of a structure fire amidst the throng of people protesting downtown,” Brian T. Moran, U.S. attorney for the district, said in a statement.

Channon is in federal custody, and it was not immediately clear if she had an attorney who could speak on her behalf Wednesday evening. A phone number for any address she might be connected to in the state could not immediately be found.

She is scheduled to make a court appearance at U.S. District Court in Seattle on Friday afternoon, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The five police vehicles were set on fire after police responded to a large protest in downtown Seattle. Four vehicles were completely destroyed, with mostly the metal frames remaining, and the fifth was heavily damaged, according to the complaint.

In one case, a fire set in one vehicle spread to a second, according to the complaint.

The fires occurred as protests and vandalism occurred in Seattle following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Local and federal authorities in multiple states and jurisdictions have been making arrests and filing charges against those accused of criminal acts surrounding the protests, which occurred in cities across the U.S.

The protests in Seattle on May 30 were described by police as mostly peaceful, but by mid-day May 31, there were "hundreds of buildings and businesses damaged," and eight vehicles burned, Seattle police have said. Fifty-seven people were arrested May 30, mostly for burglary and assault, police said.