November 28, 2021

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Travis County, Texas arson: Man arrested for setting fire inside a Democratic county building, authorities say

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Ryan Faircloth, 30, is accused of causing a fire inside the Democratic Travis County Party Headquarters in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday by throwing a Molotov cocktail device inside the building, according to Capt. Jeffrey Deane of the Austin Fire Arson Investigations Division.

Authorities responded to the scene and found the fire was extinguished apparently by some employees from a neighboring business, Austin Fire Capt. Brandon Jennings said.

No staff members wer ein the building, and the damage is minimal, officials said.

Faircloth, of Austin, was arrested and is being held at the Travis County Jail for second-degree felony arson and third-degree felony prohibited weapon charges, Deane said. He’s detained on $40,000 bond for both charges, according to arrest warrants.

CNN is working to determine whether Faircloth has retained legal representation at this time.

Authorities believe Faircloth intentionally targeted the Democratic party’s county building for political reasons.

“I think it was one of those things you know that this person was not happy with the current political climate, he blamed this office and who they represent for a lot of the issues that he saw as problems with the country and for that reason this was an intentional act,” Deane said.

Deane noted that Faircloth was “forthcoming and confessed” that he targeted the building for those reasons.

Threatening note left in the building, authorities say

Authorities said Faircloth was the person caught on surveillance video walking around the Travis County Democratic Party office building in the early morning hours of September 29. The person appeared to pick up a rock and throw it at the building’s door, breaking a small part of it, Jennings said.

The person then places an incendiary device inside the building, Jennings said.

Ryan Faircloth, 30, was arrested and charged in connection to an arson at the Travis County Democratic Party building on Wednesday morning

“It does appear that there was some paper or something that were stacked up too that were also lit on fire, but the actual device that was thrown or placed did not ignite,” Jennings added.

Jennings noted that an incendiary device such as the one seen used in the video would typically be thrown once “you light it,” and then a liquid helps ignite the fire.

“There may be a lack of experience in what they were trying to do,” Jennings said.

Faircloth allegedly left a threatening note inside the building, though authorities didn’t specify what was written in it.

“He … didn’t want the influence of the Democratic party affecting his city, his state, things like that. That was the crux of the letter. In addition to that, he alluded that this may just be a warning and there could be future incidents,” Deane said.

Travis County Democratic Party chair Katie Naranjo said Wednesday the building has been used for various government purposes.

The FBI assisted Austin investigators with the arrest because of the nature of the threats, Deane said.

2021-10-02 08:43:36

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