A man was sentenced to 32 months in prison for his role during a 2020 protest, in which he threw a Molotov cocktail into the Department of Homeland Security field office in Atlanta while employees were inside, authorities said Friday.
Richard Tyler Hunsinger, 29, of Fairfax, Virginia, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, with eight months of that time spent in home confinement. He will be required to pay restitution, which a court will determine at a later date, according to the Department of Justice.
“The citizens of this district have the right to peacefully protest,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan Buchanan said in a news release. “But those who exploit peaceful protests by committing acts of violence, like throwing Molotov cocktails into buildings where law enforcement agents are working, and destroying government property, must be held accountable.”
On July 25 of that year, Hunsinger was part of a group of protesters who gathered outside the federal building at 180 Ted Turner Drive, which also houses the local office for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The group was protesting amid national unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. They were also showing solidarity with protesters and rioters who were routinely pushing back against the presence of federal agents in Portland, Oregon.
In Atlanta that night, a group breached the fences of the DHS building and vandalized the structure, causing at least $78,000 in damage, according to the DOJ. It included a broken glass door, several broken windows, burn marks on interior walls and the building itself spray-painted, officials said at the time. The damage was caused by people throwing rocks, cinder blocks, fireworks that contained nails, and more Molotov cocktails, prosecutors said.
Hunsinger, who was an Atlanta resident at the time, promoted the protest, according to the DOJ. By 11:30 p.m., he and others wore dark clothing and face coverings as they breached the fences of the building and began vandalizing the structure.
At least two federal employees were inside when Hunsinger smashed several windows and then lit a Molotov cocktail and threw it through a glass door that had already been broken, prosecutors said. Authorities later recovered a bottle used to make the Molotov cocktail, which had his DNA on it.
On Oct. 25, 2022, Hunsinger pleaded guilty to assault on a federal officer and destruction of government property, according to court records.
“Stopping violent criminals, like Hunsinger, who target law enforcement officers is one of the most important things we can do to protect our communities,” FBI Atlanta Special Agent Katrina Berger said. “We are thankful for the hard work done in this case and hope that this sentence serves as a warning to anyone else thinking of committing such heinous acts.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com