Video of Fireworks Explosion During Riverside Protest Leads to an Arrest

The driver of a Volkswagen sedan was caught on camera as he lit a firework and placed it on a Riverside street before someone picked it up and tossed it back in the car.

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A suspect accused of lighting a firework in a crowd of protesters on a Riverside street has been arrested after video showed a surprising turn of events that ended with the firework exploding inside a car.

Video captured June 1 at University Avenue and Orange Street in downtown Riverside shows a driver in a Volkswagen sedan stop in the intersection and light a large firework on the street. A person then picked up the firework and tossed in back inside the car, where it exploded as occupants ran away.

The driver and a group of people then attacked the person who threw the firework inside the car. 

No injuries were reported.

The video captured the VW’s license plate number and an image of the driver, identified by police as 20-year-old Gabriel Castillo, of Perris. He was on probation for evading police,  Officer Ryan Railsback of the Riverside Police Department, said. 

Authorities conducted a probation search of a home in the 26900 block of Placentia Avenue in Perris on Tuesday and arrested Castillo. He was booked on illegal fireworks and probation violations, Railsback said. Jail records indicated bond was set at $50,000, and an initial court date was scheduled for October.

It was not immediately clear whether he has an attorney.


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The fireworks explosion was just one incident that police are investigation in connection with violence that broke out after a largely peaceful demonstration June 1 in downtown Riverside was ending on June 1. A group stayed behind and caused disruption and destruction, including acts of vandalism and looting of several businesses.

Some people also threw commercial grade fireworks at law enforcement and ignited them in crowds of people, Railsback said. 

Anyone with information about the individuals wanted for these acts of vandalism and looting was asked to contact Detective Paul Miranda at 951-353-7119 or via email at pmiranda@riversideca.gov. Anonymous tips can be sent by email to rpdtips@rivesideca.gov or by using the department's mobile app "Submit a Tip" feature. 

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