SEATTLE — Margaret Aislinn Channon, 25, of Tacoma, was arrested on five federal accounts of arson Thursday morning, June, 11, for burning five Seattle Police vehicles during the Seattle protest on Saturday, May 30.
A June 11 press release issued by the US Department of Justice stated distinctive tattoos, videos from stores, public, and police cameras led to the identification and arrest of Channon.
U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran for the Western District of Washington said Channon was taken into custody without incident at her Tacoma residence. She was scheduled to appear on the criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Friday, June 12.
“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,” Moran said. According to the criminal complaint, investigators from the FBI, ATF, and Seattle Police Department reviewed various videos taken of the Saturday arsons, as well as videos taken at a protest Friday evening. Channon appears in videos from both days, and tattoos that she has on her hands and arms are visible. Some of the tattoos also link Channon to a missing person report in Texas in 2019.
Investigators uncovered Channon’s various social media accounts, which helped confirm her identity and determined she had listed addresses in Seattle and Tacoma.
Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Channon’s Tacoma residence and confirmed the distinctive tattoos. They also seized clothing and accessories that appear in some of the videos from the arsons.
“The number one mission of the FBI is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to express their opinions and peacefully protest. What it does not provide is the right to invoke violence under the guise of free speech,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda of the Seattle Field Office, said. “In cooperation with our partners, we will work tirelessly to identify, investigate, and prevent individuals who are inciting violence, and coordinate with the United States Attorney's Office to address any federal violations.”
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is the federal agency primarily responsible for administering and enforcing the criminal and regulatory provisions of the Federal laws about arson.
“Arson is a crime of violence,” said ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Blais. "While we stand by every American's Constitutional right to protest, when someone turns to violence, we will work tirelessly to investigate their crimes. We are working shoulder-to-shoulder with our local, state, and federal partners to bring those responsible for actions such as this to justice."
Channon faces up to 10 years in prison under the standard sentencing range, if convicted.