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Renton man gets 3+ years for plot to burn Seattle police union building

caption: A box of Molotov cocktails that was found outside the headquarters of the Seattle Police Officers Guild after a Labor Day protests, Sept. 7, 2020.
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A box of Molotov cocktails that was found outside the headquarters of the Seattle Police Officers Guild after a Labor Day protests, Sept. 7, 2020.
Seattle Police Department

A 35-year-old Renton man has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison for his part in a plot to burn the Seattle Police Officers Guild building in 2020.

Justin Christopher Moore pleaded guilty in September 2022 to bringing Molotov cocktails to a protest march outside the headquarters of the Seattle Police Officers Guild on Labor Day 2020. On Sept. 13, 2023, he was sentenced in federal court to 40 months.

Prosecutors argued that the act outside the police union's building was inherently dangerous, given that there were more than 1,000 people participating in the march that day.

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“Moore’s offense was extremely dangerous and created a substantial risk of injury to numerous bystanders," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg for the Western District of Washington in statement. "Moore carried the box of 12 Molotov cocktails in a crowd of over 1,000 people who were participating in the protest march. All of them were in harm’s way if one of the devices had exploded.”

Moore pleaded guilty to carrying a box of the explosives to the protest on Sept. 7, 2020. When police smelled gasoline among the crowd, they moved the protesters back from the guild's building. Police later found the box of Molotov cocktails in the building's parking lot.

Court documents state that Moore was one of four people suspected of taking part in the plot on Labor Day 2020. Federal prosecutors say Moore was identified using surveillance video from the protest, data from electronic devices in the crowd, witness testimony, and testimony from others involved in the plan to burn the SPOG building.

As the South Seattle Emerald previously reported, Moore's roommate reported him to Renton police after the two got into a fight. The roommate told police that Moore was dangerous and described him as an "extremist." He also said that Moore was the person who brought Molotov cocktails to the SPOG building.

The investigation included information obtained from a cell phone that another suspect dropped after an assault on a police officer with a baseball bat. Police read messages between the phone's owner and Moore, which prosecutors said detailed a plan to blend into the crowd at the demonstration outside the the SPOG building and use Molotov cocktails to burn it.

In June 2021, police issued a search warrant for Moore's home in Renton and found clothing that matched what the suspect was wearing in surveillance footage. Police also found items related to making explosive devices in the basement, as well as a notebook containing plans for making such devices. In that notebook, which investigators said was Moore's, the author states that they intend to die, refers to himself as "a killer," and says, "I am an individual that will no doubt be of historical interest. This is not an attmittance [sic] of arrogance ... Simply an observation of my activity."

Another co-conspirator was arrested in September 2020, after allegedly setting fire to a dumpster outside the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct.

RELATED: Seattle police should apologize for 2020 protest response, oversight panel says

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