Arson charges for Baltimore teen rioter

Donta Betts on why he tried to torch a police car: "I figured I did all this because that was my period of time to go wild on the police."

By Colin Campbell
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — A 19-year-old Baltimore man federally charged in the attempted burning of a police car during the city's April riots will appear in court Friday.

Donta Betts was indicted Thursday on charges of attempted arson, obstructing law enforcement and the unlawful making of a destructive device, the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland said.

Betts is the third person federally charged in the rioting. The unrest broke out following the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who sustained a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody.

Betts confessed to creating an explosion in the street to ward off the cops "so people could finish ... stealing whatever they was going to steal," according to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who interviewed him on July 7 after he was arrested on unrelated charges.

"I figured I did all this because that was my period of time to go wild on the police," Betts said, according to a criminal complaint. He also admitted to stealing from the CVS, a shoe store at Mondawmin Mall and a liquor store, the agent wrote.

He faces at least five years, and up to 20 years, on the attempted arson charge, up to five years on the obstruction charge, and up to 10 years on the destructive device charge.

No lawyer was listed for Betts, and no phone number was listed for his Abington Avenue address.


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