Video released by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department shows fire bombs being thrown at the 4th Avenue Jail in downtown Phoenix. No one was injured. Video credit: MCSO
A man suspected of throwing several Molotov cocktails that exploded in front of the Fourth Avenue Jail was arrested early Wednesday morning, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, during an afternoon press conference Wednesday, said Michael Anthony Arreola, 27, of Mesa, threw three Molotov cocktails at the Phoenix jail on Tuesday, igniting into balls of fire in front of the building.
Arreola is a former inmate at the jail, Penzone said.
“Quite frankly, this is an attack on law enforcement, the law enforcement community and the community at large,” said Penzone.
Jail video surveillance released by the Sheriff’s Office showed a white minivan drive up to the jail at approximately 2 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
One Molotov cocktail was thrown from the van during the first incident, and two more were thrown later in the day.
Surveillance footage showed in one incident a fire started next to a man sitting on a wall near the jail. He was able to get away without injuries, according to Penzone, who did not specify a potential motive in the attacks.
“During these trying times, I don’t care what potential motive there may have been, or any other factors. This is unacceptable,” said Penzone.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said it used the surveillance footage to track the vehicle. Arreola was arrested early Wednesday morning in Mesa.
When Arreola was arrested, evidence was found in his car and house and he admitted to his crimes, Penzone said.
The Sheriff’s Office said Arreola is expected to face multiple felony charges for the fire bombings.
Penzone described the firebombs as “what we have seen in movies.” He said the explosives were bottles filled with flammable fluid, cloth or tissue paper and wick that was set on fire to cause the explosions.
“I think it’s an act of terrorism,” Penzone said. “It is an attack on the individuals that are in this building and that the method that he used is extremely dangerous and aggressive.”
Detectives narrowed down a pool of about 200 possible suspect vehicles to four or five before Arreola was in custody, Penzone said. Detectives found part of his license plate and the direction in which he drove away through video surveillance.
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