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Grand jury indicts pair for August arsons during protests

Subject #1 walking away holding the gasoline container.
Subject #1 walking away holding the gasoline container.(UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN CRIMINAL COMPLAINT)
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 4:54 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Two people from Madison have officially been indicted for allegedly setting fire to a pair of commercial buildings in Madison during the civil unrest that erupted in August.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury has formally indicted Anessa Fierro, 27, and Willie Johnson, 45, on two counts each of attempting to damage and destroy by fire the two buildings.

Fierro and Johnson, who both live in Madison, were previously charged in September, however, as U.S. Attorney Scott Blader explained, criminal charges filed by complaint must be presented to the grand jury.

According to the complaints released in September, Fierro and Johnson allegedly broke glass windows and doors of two commercial buildings, poured liquid from a gasoline container inside the buildings and then attempted to ignite the fluid.

Fierro and Johnson then allegedly started a fire successfully at one building and continued to attempt to ignite the liquid in the second building, but then Madison police officers arrived. The second building was reportedly filled with residential apartments, some of which were occupied at the time.

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

The complaint noted that if Fierro and Johnson are convicted, they will face a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison on each count.

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