La Mesa

La Mesa Bank Arsonist Learns His Legal Fate for Actions During Contentious 2020 Protest

Alexander King, 20, pleaded guilty in February in connection to his role in setting the May 30, 2020, fire inside the Chase bank branch

The burnt remanence of the Chase bank on Spring Street in La Mesa after it was set on fire.
NBC 7, Steven Luke

A man who took part in setting fire to a Chase bank in La Mesa following a contentious 2020 protest outside the city's police headquarters was sentenced Monday.

In February, Alexander King, 20, admitted his role in setting the May 30, 2020, fire inside the Chase bank branch at 4791 Spring St., pleading guilty to a felony count of recklessly causing a fire of a structure, On Monday, a judge in the El Cajon courthouse sentenced King, whose legal defense team had requested probation, to 16 months in prison.

Two men have been arrested for setting fire to a bank in La Mesa back in May 2020, when civil unrest gripped the small community in San Diego's East County just after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

King's co-defendant. Ricky Bernard Cooper, 34, pleaded guilty to arson and burglary charges for his part in the bank fire, as well as for looting stores at the La Mesa Springs Shopping Center. Cooper received a two-year probation term last fall.

Prosecutors allege several people, some of whom remain at large, started fires inside the bank, which burned to the ground. It was one of several structures that burned during the unrest that sparked in the days following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as the arrest of another Black man, Amaurie Johnson, in La Mesa a few days later.

Others prosecuted in connection with the post-protest rioting include Daniel Louis Sandoval, 44, who pleaded guilty to arson for his role in the fire of the Randall Lamb and Associates Building on Palm Avenue, and Zachary Alexander Karas, who was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison after being convicted of bringing Molotov cocktails to the protest.

Some neighbors said their Spring Street neighborhood in Las Mesa looks like a war zone after peaceful protests turned violent on Saturday night, reports NBC 7's Ramon Galindo.
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