A man convicted of setting off an explosion with his car after crashing it into a U.S. defense contractor building was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday for politically motivated arson.
Daniel Hector Mackinnon, previously known as Daniel Patrick Shelley, drove a Toyota Prius with mismatched license plates into a Raytheon building in Kearny Mesa and then set it on fire at about 2:30 a.m. on April 24, fire investigators said.
Mackinnon opened the back hatch of the Prius and "a short while later, fire shot out, engulfing the vehicle and causing damage to the building’s exterior," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
When law enforcement arrived, Mackinnon was nowhere to be found. He was arrested hours after the blast as he tried crossing back into the U.S. from Mexico in another car with stolen license plates, according to a court document.
Mackinnon, 37, was charged in federal court with malicious destruction of a building by means of fire for the incident at Raytheon Integrated Defense on Balboa Avenue in Kearny Mesa.
Mackinnon pleaded guilty on July 1 to one count of malicious destruction of a building my means of fire, or arson.
According to the company's website, Raytheon is a U.S. defense contractor that specializes in civil government and cybersecurity solutions, including missile defense and electronic warfare.
Because Raytheon deals with military defense and cybersecurity, Mackinnon could have faced national security charges.
When charged, Mackinnon faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of 25 years. He will serve seven years in prison.
At his sentencing, U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes called Mackinnon a danger to the community, and said in regard to the length of his sentence, “In light of what you did, I think every day is warranted."
The sentencing also covered a second arson that occurred earlier the same day at a prominent San Diego real estate developer's home, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Federal prosecutors say Mackinnon poured an accelerant on the door of the home and set it on fire while two adults and three children were inside.
Investigators believe Mackinnon targeted Raytheon and the real estate developer's home "based on the nature of the business and/or their professional/political ties," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
“This conviction and sentence sends an important message to those who use violence to express their discontent,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott Brunner. “The FBI will identify and bring to justice arsonists and other violent actors who put the safety of San Diegans at risk.”
The investigation into both arsons was conducted by the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), the Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST), and the federal, state and local partners of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).