An Indianapolis, Indiana, man who has been charged with three federal felonies after repeatedly and intentionally jeopardizing the lives of police officers, destroying public property, and encouraging others to commit violence during riots in Portland in the fall of 2020 is scheduled to plead guilty to the charges in federal court next week.
Kevin Sonoff, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon told the Willamette Week that the accused Malik Muhammad is scheduled to plead guilty on March 28. “The details of his plea are not yet public.” This was also confirmed by a spokeswoman in the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and that Muhammad is expected to change his plea to guilty in state court on March 29.
Muhammad faces 28 counts in Multnomah County, including attempted aggravated murder, unlawful manufacture and possession of a destructive device. He also faces six counts in federal court for civil disorder, using an explosive to commit a felony, and unlawful possession of a destructive device.
According to court documents, Malik Muhammad, 25, has been charged with possession of unregistered destructive devices, engaging in civil disorder and obstructing law enforcement, and using explosives to commit a federal felony.
Muhammad allegedly traveled to Portland with his girlfriend from their home in Indianapolis for the purpose of engaging in violent civil disorder during the 2020 riots.
According to the Department of Justice, on September 5, 2020, Muhammad was present during a large civil disturbance in east Portland, demonstrators threw dangerous objects at police, including commercial-grade fireworks, Molotov cocktails, and bottles. At least one demonstrator was seriously burned by a Molotov cocktail thrown in the direction of police and Muhammad allegedly provided baseball bats to members of the crowd.
Following Muhammad’s arrest in October that year, law enforcement officials confiscated his cell phone and found messages in which he bragged about giving the bats to rioters. Additionally, the phone contained a shopping list of supplies used to make Molotov cocktails.
Following the riot, police found a discarded bat with a Goodwill price tag near the scene, traced the item to the specific Goodwill store where the bat was purchased and obtained surveillance footage showing Muhammad and his girlfriend buying bats and “growler” bottles.
During another riot near the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Penumbra Kelly Building on September 21, police observed a person light an object on fire and throw it towards the building. An officer observed the burning object flying toward his vehicle and landing approximately 15 feet from a police sound truck.
Officers recovered the unexploded device, which consisted of a yellow glass growler with a Goodwill sticker on the bottom, a cloth wick, and an ignitable liquid. The growler was one of the items purchased at the Goodwill store by Muhammad and his girlfriend. DNA evidence also linked the growler to Muhammad.
On September 23, rioters set fire to and broke windows at the Multnomah County Justice Center. One of the rioters threw a Molotov cocktail in a large yellow growler that landed in front of the officers, shattered, and exploded into a large fireball. Even though some officers were able to move out of the way, one officer’s leg caught fire. Muhammad was captured on video throwing the device.
On October 11, while approximately 250 people marched in downtown Portland, some of the participants began vandalizing buildings and parks including the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University, a Starbucks coffee shop, and a Bank of America branch. Police observed Muhammad in the crowd dressed in black and using a metal baton to smash the windows of several buildings. He was arrested after a short chase while in possession of a loaded pistol magazine in his pocket. A loaded pistol matching the magazine was found discarded near the location of his arrest.
Muhammad’s allegedly traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, in August 2020 to meet with antigovernmental and anti-authority violent extremist groups to conduct firearms and tactical training. Investigators discovered social media posts by Muhammad promoting violence toward law enforcement in other cities including Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Illinois.
According to federal prosecutors a search of Muhammad’s travel trailer in October 2020 yielded multiple firearms, including an AR-15 rifle.
Detectives contacted the rifle’s owner, who lives in Indianapolis. The owner allegedly told investigators that Muhammad was “…a communist revolutionary who was attempting to gather people with firearms to engage in acts of violence.”
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