A 31-year-old man who was reportedly wearing a Joker mask has been charged with lighting a police vehicle on fire during a protest in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Identified as Timothy O'Donnell, he was arrested Tuesday on a federal arson charge, according to Fox 32 Chicago.
O'Donnell allegedly placed a lit object into the gas tank of the police car during a protest on Saturday in downtown Chicago, which caused it to burst into flames. The charge is punishable by a minimum sentence of five years in prison, with a maximum of 20 years. Federal prosecutors stated they were able to track him down partly because he has the word "PRETTY" tattooed across his neck. A search warrant was issued for O'Donnell's home on Tuesday and reportedly found an identical Joker mask in his bedroom. After he was arrested, he also allegedly waived his right to remain silent while admitting he was the one sporting the mask in the photos.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch Jr. issued a statement about the arrest on Tuesday. "Anyone involved in destructive behavior — such as setting fire to a police car — should know that federal law enforcement will use all tools available to us to hold them accountable," Lausch Jr.'s statement read. "We will continue to work with the Chicago Police Department and our federal and state partners to apprehend and charge arsonists and others engaging in violent crime."
While the mask itself was more of a generic clown face, it was similar to face coverings that appeared in 2019's Joker. The controversial (and Oscar-winning) comic book flick ended with a widespread riot instigated by the eponymous criminal mastermind, played by Joaquin Phoenix.
Widespread protests began in cities across the U.S. on Thursday as a response to the May 25 death of George Floyd. The 46-year-old was arrested in Minneapolis after being accused of paying with a counterfeit bill and was killed while in police custody after responding officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on the back of Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin was fired the following day, along with the other three officers before being arrested on Friday. He was first charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, though they were upgraded to second-degree on both counts on Wednesday. The other three officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, were arrested on Wednesday on charges of aiding and abetting.