A West Hills man was arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging he started a fire that caused substantial damage to the Sake House by Hikari in Santa Monica on May 31 during a night of civil unrest.
Micah Tillmon, 19, was arrested without incident by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and officers with the Santa Monica Police Department, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
He was expected to make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
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A criminal complaint charges Tillmon with one count of arson, a felony offense that carries a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, security video from the restaurant shows Tillmon removing "a red tube-shaped object from his jacket, which he placed behind the reception desk area of the restaurant before walking away. Within seconds of that action, smoke and fire appeared from the area.''
Investigators with the Santa Monica Fire Department determined that the fire was caused by the red object that Tillmon allegedly placed in the restaurant, which is at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fourth Street.
Tillmon was identified by Santa Monica police detectives, who reviewed numerous security videos and social media posts. Tillmon was also linked to the fire when investigators uncovered a video showing his white Ford Explorer parking next to the Sake House four minutes before the fire started and then reversing across the street soon after the fire started, according to the affidavit.
That same video allegedly shows the Explorer parking about 500 feet away from the Sake House, and Tillmon exiting the vehicle and looting a nearby business, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.