La Mesa

2 Men Accused of Sparking Chase Bank Fire During La Mesa Rioting

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A joint law-enforcement announced Tuesday that two men had been arrested, accused of multiple criminal counts connected to the rioting that took place in La Mesa in May following a day of peaceful protests.

The protests in La Mesa took place after the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the controversial arrest of a Black man, Amaurie Johnson, by LMPD Officer Matt Dages, a white officer, near a trolley stop in La Mesa. All charges against Johnson were later dropped.

The Chase Bank and a nearby Union Bank branch in the 4750 block of Spring Street were destroyed on the night of May 30 after they were broken into and set on fire.

Agents with the San Diego FBI field office released a statement Tuesday, in conjunction with the La Mesa and San Diego police departments, saying that San Diego resident Alexander Jacob King, 19, was arrested Monday, accused of the arson of the Chase Bank. Officials said that King was booked on charges of arson of a structure and looting.

Photos: La Mesa Protest on May 30, 2020

Also arrested Monday was another San Diego man, Ricky Bernard Cooper, 33. Agents said was booked on four counts of looting as well as a felony charge of arson of a structure.

Both cases are now under review by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, according to the FBI.

NBC 7's Priya Sridhar has more.

The arrests on Monday were not the first connected to the events in La Mesa in May. In early June, LMPD took 25-year-old La Mesa resident Rey Estrada-Silva into custody, accusing him of looting the Play It Again Sports store in the La Mesa Springs Shopping Center on University Avenue and La Mesa Boulevard.

King and Cooper are both being held at the jail in downtown San Diego. Officials said they have not yet had a date set for their arraignments.

The FBI told NBC 7 on Tuesday that the "investigation into the Union Bank arson is ongoing."

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