INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indiana man arrested Friday and accused of throwing a firebomb at Portland, Oregon, police officers during the 2020 summer riots was a central figure in a June march to the Governor’s Residence during Indianapolis protests.
Malik Muhammad, 24, was arrested by SWAT officers in Indianapolis.
Authorities in Portland say Muhammad threw a firebomb at an officer in September, scorching the officer’s uniform. They also say Muhammad is responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in damages from October.
Muhammad faces a 28-count grand jury indictment in Multnomah County, filed March 22:
- Attempted aggravated murder (two counts);
- Attempted assault in the first degree (two counts);
- Attempted murder in the first degree (four counts);
- Attempted murder in the second degree (two counts);
- Criminal mischief in the first degree (six counts);
- Riot (four counts);
- Unlawful manufacture of a destructive device (two counts);
- Unlawful possession of a destructive device (two counts);
- Unlawful possession of a firearm (one count);
- Unlawful possession of a loaded firearm (one count);
- Unlawful use of a weapon (two counts).
The charges stem from four incidents during September and October, according to a Monday news release from Mulnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. Muhammad is accused of traveling to Portland “for the specific purpose of engaging in multiple criminal acts” before returning to Indiana.
Muhammad is accused of throwing a large, burning object toward a patrol car with a sergeant inside during a Sept. 21 demonstration near the Penumbra Kelly Building. Police described the object, which did not explode, as a large, yellow bottle similar to a beer growler. The bottle had a burnt rag stuffed in its mouth and contained a large amount of flammable liquid. Investigators used a price tag to determine where the bottle was purchased, and video from the store showed Muhammad and another person buying bats and beer growlers there, including two yellow growlers, Schmidt said court documents allege.
Portland police on Monday released video from Sept. 23, when police say Muhammad threw a large, burning object at a group of officers outside the Mulnomah County Justice Center. A police description matched the description of the yellow bottle used in the Sept. 21 incident. The bottle exploded, and most officers got out of the way of the fireball that came out, but one officer’s lower leg briefly caught fire. Police also say a search of Muhammad’s cellphone uncovered a shopping list that included “common ingredients to make a Molotov cocktail,” Schmidt said court documents allege.
Muhammad is accused on Oct. 11 of using a metal baton to smash out windows of the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University, Sprint T-Mobile, Bank of America, and Ben Bridge Jewelers. Police arrested Muhammad that day and found a loaded pistol magazine in his pocket; they found a pistol that fit the magazine he had near where Muhammad was arrested, according to Schmidt.
Muhammad was a central figure in a June protest in Indianapolis following two nights of downtown protests and riots. He was part of a march up Meridian Street to the Governor’s Residence, leading to a standoff with Indiana State Police. The tension was broken when Muhammad hugged an IMPD officer, and the two walked together down Meridian Street.
Days later, Muhammad met with Gov. Eric Holcomb at the residence, where Muhammad told News 8 he and Holcomb, had a long talk that included discussion of an abolishment of knee and chokeholds, as well as making an officer’s record of violence more public so he or she cannot just move to another state or police force and get a clean slate.
After their meeting, Holcomb said in a statement: “Historic journeys take historic first steps. Malik and I took one, together, today.”
In June, Muhammad told News 8’s Dan Klein that he served in the Army for three years as a specialist in a tank before an honorable discharge and that he has a small dairy farm in Delaware County.
At the end of June, Muhammad told Klein he believed police were harassing him and tapping his phone. IMPD in a statement responded to the claim, saying they had not tapped his phone and had been in direct communication with him, “always seeking to work directly with organizers of planned events of all kinds” and would “continue to ensure the right to peacefully protest is preserved, as well as the safety of the community.”
Muhammad on Monday remained in the Marion County Jail awaiting an extradition hearing, online records show.