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Suspect In Arson Of Structure During La Mesa Police Protest Jailed

A vehicle engulfed in flames in front of La Mesa City Hall on May 30, 2020, a...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: A vehicle engulfed in flames in front of La Mesa City Hall on May 30, 2020, as the protest over police brutality escalated to chaos and vandalism.

A man suspected of setting fire to a historic commercial structure in downtown La Mesa during a police brutality protest that devolved into rioting last spring was jailed Tuesday on suspicion of arson and felony vandalism.

Daniel Louis Sandoval, 43, was arrested Tuesday morning near his Campo home in connection with the fiery destruction of the Randall Lamb and Associates Building on Palm Avenue, according to the La Mesa Police Department.

The structure, which had been designated as historically significant by the La Mesa Historical Society, was one of several buildings, including two banks, burned to the ground during the unrest.

Two other men have been arrested in connection with the fires and the looting of stores during the chaotic demonstration.

The May 30 protest was sparked by the Memorial Day in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the arrest of another Black man, Amaurie Johnson, in La Mesa a few days later.

Johnson's rough arrest by a white La Mesa police officer was captured on video and proliferated over social media, prompting extensive backlash and a federal lawsuit filed by Johnson against the city.

The demonstration began with protesters marching onto Interstate 8 in the afternoon, stopping traffic, before moving on to La Mesa police headquarters.

Though the protest began peacefully, confrontations began breaking out at nightfall, with some demonstrators throwing things and officers firing beanbag rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Sandoval was booked into San Diego Central Jail, where he was being held on $500,000 bail pending his initial court appearance. No arraignment date for the suspect was listed in jail records as of Tuesday evening.

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