Micah Tillmon, 19, of West Hills has been arrested in connection with the arson of Sake House restaurant during the looting on May 31.
Tillmon was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint filed on June 25 and unsealed after his arrest. The complaint charges Tillmon with one count of arson, a felony offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years.
According to the criminal complaint, the Santa Monica Fire Department responded to the restaurant at about 5 p.m. on May 31.
“This occurred during a civil disturbance within the city, so once SMFD firefighters extinguished the fire, they quickly left the scene due to unsafe conditions. SMFD responded several times throughout the evening and night to extinguish flare-ups. The interior of the restaurant sustained substantial fire damage, to include a hole burned through the ceiling,” said Gabriel Denton, a Special Agent with the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the criminal complaint.
Investigators returned on June 4 and were given security footage that showed the interior of the restaurant during the incident that showed three individuals inside: a woman and two men.
“Then, those individuals all disappeared from the security camera’s frame of view before the Subject walked back into frame and removed a red tube-shaped object from his jacket, which he placed behind the reception desk area of the restaurant before walking away. Within seconds of that action, smoke and fire appeared from the area where the Subject placed the red tube-shaped object,” said the report.
Denton said SMFD investigators linked the fire to that red object.
He said Tillmon was identified through multiple videos captured at and near the scene that also showed him looting a nearby business. Those cameras also captured the suspect’s vehicle, a white Ford Explorer, parked in front of the restaurant.
Tillmon was identified by the vehicles license plate and through a jacket he wore during the crime. According to Denton, the jacket had a patch for a security firm and investigators determined Tillmon worked for the company up to May 26. According to the complaint, Tillmon reapplied for a job at the company on June 18 and provided his home address which was then given to the police.
Thom Mrozek, Director of Media Relations for the United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California, said he couldn’t comment on specific investigations but he said federal authorities are participating in other investigations stemming from incidents that took place during the time frames of various protests around the Southland.