Two charged with arson in Madison during unrest

Two people have been charged by federal prosecutors with arson after being accused of setting fire to two businesses during unrest Aug. 25 in Madison.

Anessa Fierro, 27, and Willie Johnson, 45, both of Madison, are charged in two-count complaints filed in U.S. District Court this week.

Madison police said a peaceful protest with about 500 people following the shooting in Kenosha of Jacob Blake spiraled into "destructive criminal activity" with some members of the group starting fires, breaking windows and looting businesses.

The complaints allege that Fierro and Johnson broke glass windows and doors in two commercial buildings, poured liquid from a gasoline container into the buildings, and attempted to ignite the fluid.

The complaint alleges that Fierro and Johnson successfully started a fire at one building and were attempting to ignite the liquid poured into the second building when Madison police officers arrived on scene.

According to the complaint, the second building contained residential apartments, some of which were occupied at the time of the attempted arson.

Fierro and Johnson were identified through video surveillance recovered as part of the investigation.

Fierro and Johnson were arrested in Madison Wednesday by ATF agents and Madison police officers. Their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Madison have not been scheduled.

“Arson is not protest, it is a crime that places the entire community at extreme risk,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Blader. “Those who attempt to terrorize the community through such violent crimes will be vigorously prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice.”

If convicted, Fierro and Johnson face a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison on each count. The charges against them are the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Madison Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chadwick M. Elgersma is handling the prosecution.

To read more go to WKOW:

Photo: WKOW

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