5 suspects accused of burning Gainesville officer’s patrol car face federal charges

Top row, from left: Jesse Smallwood, Judah Bailey, Bruce Thompson. Bottom row: Dashun Martin, Deveccho Waller.

Top row, from left: Jesse Smallwood, Judah Bailey, Bruce Thompson. Bottom row: Dashun Martin, Deveccho Waller.

Five men accused of torching a Gainesville police car parked outside an officer’s apartment building have been indicted on federal charges in connection with the incident.

The car was set on fire early June 2 amid national protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, AJC.com previously reported.

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The men suspected of starting the fire — Deveccho Waller Jr., 21, Jesse James Smallwood, 21, Dashun Martin, 23, Judah Bailey, 20, and Bruce Thompson, 22 — were arrested about two hours later, Gainesville police spokeswoman Cpl. Jessica Van said previously.

The car was set on fire early June 2 amid national protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Credit: Gainesville Police Department

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Credit: Gainesville Police Department

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney BJay Pak announced that all five have been indicted on federal charges of arson, conspiring to commit arson and attempted commission of arson in addition to their local charges.

“While using the cover of peaceful protests in Gainesville, the defendants allegedly sought out and intentionally burned a police vehicle,” Pak said in a news release. “Those seeking to perpetrate criminal acts of violence toward our law enforcement officers should expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

According to federal prosecutors, the men were taken into custody at a nearby gas station after officers spotted a car matching the suspects’ description. Inside Smallwood’s vehicle, police reportedly discovered “three spent explosives” and a flare gun.

In a statement, Gainesville police Chief Jay Parrish said he wants the community to know the department stands with them during their right to protest peacefully.

“Sadly, agitators that do not necessarily share the same goals as our community took this opportunity to target one of our officers at his residence,” he said. “We will not stand for this type of destruction and violence in our community.”

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