ROCHESTER, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Christopher Tindal, 25, of Rochester, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit arson and arson. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 20 years, and a $250,000 fine.
“Today’s arrest brings the total number charged district-wide with protest related violence in Rochester and Buffalo to 13 individuals, noted U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “As alleged in the various charging documents filed against them, these individuals, including Mr. Tindal, engaged in acts of ‘violent rioting’ not ‘peaceful protest.’ Instead of speaking-out in pursuit of the ideal of justice, these defendants acted-out in denigration of it, and as such, they have been appropriately charged in federal court.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassie M. Kocher, who is handling the prosecution of Mr. Tindal and others similarly charged in Rochester, stated that on May 30, 2020, Rochester Police Department (RPD) officers were assigned to assist with crowd control during protests scheduled at the Public Safety Building (PSB) on Exchange Boulevard. The protests were in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the late-afternoon/early-evening, the protests turned violent, resulting in vandalism, damaged property, looting, and fires. According to the complaint, at approximately 5:05 p.m., an RPD car was damaged by fire and towed away from the PSB. The car were damaged by fire, and the car was determined to be a total loss. Subsequent investigation, including the review of video footage, including City of Rochester blue light cameras, footage from a law enforcement aerial drone, and Facebook Live videos, revealed that defendant was one of the individuals who intentionally set fire to RFD car. Photographs and video show Tindal, who was wearing distinctive clothing and who had a distinctive forearm tattoo, speaking with Dyshika McFadden, who was previously charged with conspiracy to commit arson and arson. The video shows the two talking and then moving towards the RFD car and lighting it on fire. The two used aerosol can and open flame to set fire. Tindal was arrested on July 31, 2020, on state charges related to the RPD car fire.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief La’Ron Singletary; the Gates Police Department, under the direction of Chief James VanBrederode; the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Eric Laughton; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley; the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team; the Rochester Fire Department, under the direction of Fire Chief Willie Jackson; and the United States Marshal’s Service, under the direction of United States Marshal Charles Salina.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.