A Pennsylvania man was arrested after he allegedly left a backpack of molotov cocktails in downtown Pittsburgh amid the ongoing protests prompted by George Floyd’s death, authorities announced this weekend.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania said that Matthew Michanowicz, 52, faces federal charges for illegal possession of an unregistered destructive device.
The charges stem from a June 1 incident, when Pittsburgh police responded to a suspicious bag left at a bike rack downtown, according to a criminal complaint. When police found the “military, green backpack,” they noticed a foul odor and three devices, which were later confirmed by a bomb squad to be suspected “homemade molotov cocktails.”
Surveillance footage allegedly captured Michanowicz placing the backpack under some trees. According to the complaint, he told investigators that he had ridden his bike to the area to observe the “aftermath” of the protests last week.
He denied possessing any destructive devices, police say. But when authorities searched Michanowicz’s home, they say, they found 10 additional camouflage backpacks in his garage, along with equipment such as fuses, latex gloves, spray foam insulation and ignitable liquid.
Scott Brady, the U.S. attorney overseeing the case, said Michanowicz was only present at the protests to “incite and destroy.”
“Once again, we see that certain participants in the protests in Pittsburgh were only present to serve as agitators and to incite violence,” Brady said. “Let’s call them what they are: criminals.”
He added, “I hope that any organizers or protesters who are participating consistent with the First Amendment will help identify and stop agitators who seek to manipulate their protest for violent ends.”