Seattle man pleads guilty to arson, gun charges in connection with downtown tumult during protests

Mike Carter

Seattle Times reporter

A Seattle man pleaded guilty to arson and possession of a stolen firearm in connection with downtown violence during massive protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Georgia-born tire Wayne Means Jr. faces a jail sentence of at least five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison on June 11, according to the U.S. if convicted by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones on June 11 at a law firm.

Means was charged in October after being arrested for setting fire to a Seattle police cruiser and stealing an assault-style patrol rifle from another during stormy protests downtown on May 30, 2020.

A phone message requesting comment from David Hammerstad, Means attorney in Seattle, was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon. Funds remain in federal custody.

According to court records, a video was recorded of a paper towel being set on fire and placed on the back of a Seattle police patrol car parked outside Nordstrom on Sixth Avenue in downtown Seattle. Other people in the crowd supplied the fire with lighter fluid and other accelerators, and the vehicle was destroyed, according to prosecutors.

After that, Means was seen reaching through the shattered rear window of another patrol car and removing a rifle case, looking inside, and then running from the scene carrying the bag.

Another surveillance camera around the corner where the gun was taken shows Means in a fight with another man. While they were fighting, a third man picked up the rifle sack and walked away. It was returned anonymously to police later that day, according to a US Attorney’s press release.

Prosecutors say Means was identified by his distinctive clothing, jewelry and tattoos. Means has two criminal convictions in Georgia and one conviction in Washington and is banned from owning a firearm, prosecutors say.

Arson carries a prison sentence of at least five years and a maximum sentence of up to 20 years. Possession of a stolen firearm is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In a plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend a five-year prison sentence for the crime, the US law firm said.