A 26-year-old man from Raleigh, North Carolina was arrested on Wednesday for setting fires inside two businesses in the city after a protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Richard Rubalcava was taken into custody by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).
The complaint charged him with two counts of maliciously damaging or destroying or attempting to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building or other real or personal property affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
Starting A Fire After Looting
As stated by the complaint, at around 12:13 a.m on May 30, 2020, after looting by rioters, a fire was seen at the Dollar General Express located at 149 East Davie Street, Raleigh. Video surveillance from the Dollar General Express showed Rubalcava entering the store and placing numerous articles in a bag from the store.
The video footage showed Rubalcava entering and exiting the business several times, stealing more items with every visit. In addition to theft, the surveillance tapes captured him in the act of setting fire to items stacked on an aisle and exiting the store after starting the blaze.
Starting a Second Blaze
If starting one fire was not enough, Rubalcava was caught setting another establishment on fire on the same night. According to a surveillance video from Budacai Restaurant, located at 120 East Martin Street, Raleigh, Rubalcava entered the eatery three times in total. When he entered the building the second time, he stole cash from the register. During his third visit, the firebug tried to set a plant on fire within the premises of the restaurant.
When he failed in his attempts to set the plant on fire, he lit a towel and placed the flaming cloth on a countertop. In both the surveillance videos, Rubalcava was seen wearing the same clothing. He later confessed that he started a fire inside Budacai Restaurant to officers from the Raleigh Police Department (RPD).
Based on the counts charged under in the criminal complaint, Rubalcava finds himself facing both prison time and a hefty fine. The counts carry with them a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.