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Colorado police track down man who threw explosives at officers during a George Floyd protest

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Jason Meisner

Chicago Tribune

An Aurora man is facing federal charges alleging he threw an explosive at a police vehicle during George Floyd-related unrest in Naperville earlier this month.

Christian Rea, 19, was charged in a criminal complaint with one count of civil unrest. He faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.

Rea was among a group of protesters just after 9:30 p.m. June 1 when he threw the explosive device at a Naperville police vehicle parked at Washington Street and Chicago Avenue in the west suburb, according to the complaint. Several officers were standing near the vehicle when the device detonated.

“As a result of the explosion, the officers were temporarily stunned, with several officers suffering momentary blindness and hearing loss for several minutes,” the 14-page complaint stated. “Panic ensued in the crowd of protesters as well, with people running in all directions.”

Investigators were able to identify Rea through photographs posted on various Facebook pages that showed a man in with dark hair wearing dark pants and a blue Tommy Hilfiger shirt, according to the charges.

After his arrest Thursday, Rea admitted he threw the device, which he called a “firework,” according to the complaint.

Rea was scheduled to appear for a detention hearing Friday afternoon, records show.

“Federal law enforcement will use all tools available to hold accountable individuals who interfere with law enforcement officers performing their duties during a civil disorder,” U.S. Attorney John Lausch said in a statement.

Rea was the first person to face federal charges stemming from the unrest that struck Naperville, where more than two dozen buildings were vandalized and several stores were looted.

A similar scene played out in Aurora, where violence began after a largely peaceful protest of the police-involved killing of Floyd in Minneapolis. Some in the crow hurled large chunks of concrete at police, while others lit fireworks within feet of officers. Authorities responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets repeatedly into the crowds.

The Tribune and the Aurora-Beacon News have reported that investigators are combing through hours of video from surveillance cameras, drones and dashboard cameras, and are also using facial recognition software to identify suspects.

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