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Woman accused of setting 5 police vehicles on fire during riots

Margaret Aislinn Channon faces federal arson charges after police matched surveillance photos to her unique eyebrows and knuckle tattoos.

SEATTLE — During one of the first nights of protests in Seattle over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed while in Minneapolis police custody, several police vehicles were set on fire right in the middle of downtown.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced a 25-year-old Tacoma woman was arrested for allegedly setting those parked patrol cars on fire during the protests on May 30. 

Margaret Channon has been charged with five federal counts of arson for burning five Seattle Police Department vehicles in the area of 6th and Pine Streets downtown.

Federal investigators said they were able to determine it was Channon and track her down due to several cameras in the area capturing her allegedly setting the vehicles on fire and showing her unique tattoos.

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“This defendant was captured by multiple cameras using an accelerant, lit like a blowtorch, to start fires in five vehicles -- putting the public at risk and creating the very real possibility of a structure fire amidst the throng of people protesting downtown,” said U.S. Attorney Moran. “I commend the painstaking work of law enforcement using a variety of images to identify the defendant and locate her so she can be held accountable.”

According to the criminal complaint, investigators from the FBI, ATF, and Seattle Police Department reviewed various videos taken of the Saturday arsons, as well as videos taken at a protest Friday evening. 

Channon appeared in videos from both days, and tattoos she has on her hands and arms were clearly visible, according to court documents. 

Some of the tattoos linked Channon to a missing person report in Texas in 2019. Ultimately, investigators said they uncovered her various social media accounts which helped confirm her identity.

Federal agents served a search warrant on Channon's home in Tacoma Thursday morning and she was taken into custody without incident. Investigators also seized clothing and accessories that appear in some of the videos from the arsons, court documents said.

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