SANTA MONICA—On November 2, 2020, a man plead not guilty in court after being charged with arson back in May. The man and crime in question is Nathan Wilson who allegedly set an unmarked police vehicle on fire in Santa Monica during the protests. Multiple witnesses, Wilson’s social media, and an investigation from the Santa Monica police department, the FBI with assistance from the Irvine police department and the Orange County authority led to Wilson’s arrest on October 13 by the Santa Monica police. He was charged in a federal criminal complaint with malicious damage to property owned by an institution or organization receiving federal financial assistance and can face a maximum prison sentence of twenty years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The arson of the unmarked Ford Crown Victoria took place in May where, according to the FBI, multiple witnesses placed Wilson in the scene of the crime due to photos of a man wearing an American bandana and a distinct tattoo on the left arm that later resembled a picture he posted under his Instagram account. The Irvine police department was informed on September of a vehicle arson from a domestic dispute call linked to Wilson. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, it was through a search of his Irvine home that Irvine police, Santa Monica police, and the FBI learned the clothes and tattoo from the witness and Wilson’s Instagram account matched with that of photos near the vehicle arson.
Due to the nature of the alleged crime being committed during a protest, the investigation was led by SAFE LA task force, which conducts criminal investigations in Los Angeles that occur during protests or demonstrations.