San Fernando Valley man pleads federal arson charges at Santa Monica restaurant during last year’s riot | USAO-CDCA

LOS ANGELES – A West Hills man who started a fire in a Santa Monica restaurant during the riots that broke out in Spring 2020 pleaded guilty to a state criminal complaint today.

Micah Tillmon, 20, pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered destructive device.

On May 8th, 2020, Tillmon entered Sake House by Hikari, a Japanese restaurant in downtown Santa Monica, without a permit and while the shop was closed due to the unrest in the city at the time.

In the restaurant, Tillmon owned and used an incendiary device to start a fire that quickly grew, enveloped the entire restaurant area, and spread to other areas of the building adjacent to the restaurant.

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint previously filed in the case, a security video from the restaurant shows Tillmon “removing a red tubular object from his jacket that he placed behind the restaurant reception area before leaving. Within seconds of this action, smoke and fire appeared from the area … “

The Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) responded to the fire, using several fire trucks and numerous personnel to put out the flames. Due to security concerns that accompanied the civil unrest in the city, SMFD left the scene prematurely. As a result, SMFD had to return to the crime scene several times during the night to clear out more flares. The restaurant has since closed permanently.

Tillmon was identified by detectives from the Santa Monica Police Department who checked numerous security videos and social media posts. Tillmon was also linked to the fire when investigators uncovered a video showing his white Ford Explorer parking lot next to Sake House four minutes before the fire broke out and then driving back across the street shortly after the fire broke out, according to court documents.

In his declaration of consent, Tillmon admitted that he knowingly owned an incendiary device that was not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, the central federal register for all items regulated under the National Firearms Act.

The US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald has scheduled a hearing on December 6 to announce the verdict, at which Tillmon faces a maximum legal sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Santa Monica Police Department are investigating the matter.

Shawn T. Andrews, US Assistant Attorney with the Department of Violence and Organized Crime, is pursuing this case.

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