Oregon Man Pleads Guilty to Throwing Lit Firework at Courthouse During Portland Protests

An Oregon man pleaded guilty Wednesday to lighting and throwing a lit firework at the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, amid the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality in the summer of 2020.

The incendiary device hit protective wood that was covering the courthouse's entrance, which sparked a fire when the device ignited, federal authorities said.

Gabriel Agard-Berryhill, 19, told federal officers that a male stranger in a ski mask handed him the firework, which was roughly the size of a piece of chalk. He initially thought it was a spinner-type device that would swivel around and flash various colors when ignited, a federal affidavit said.

When he said that he was going to light the device and throw it toward a city street, others told him to throw it at the courthouse instead because some other demonstrators may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress from the tear gas federal officers used against the crowds.

He then lit the firework and threw it over the fence, said Amanda Johnson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Johnson wrote in an affidavit that the device ended up at the base of the protective wood at the courthouse's entrance, and Agard-Berryhill saw a large flash a few seconds later, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

He said that the "concussive" sound the device produced when it went off was shocking and it scared him. Agard-Berryhill told federal officers that he didn't mean to hurt anyone by using the firework.

Authorities were able to pinpoint Agard-Berryhill with a YouTube video that showed the clothes he was wearing and an online review posted by his grandmother. His grandmother's post included a picture of him wearing the same tactical vest that he was seen with in the video.

"I got this for my grandson who's a protestor downtown, he uses it every night and says it does the job," she wrote in the review under the username "grammaf."

Agard-Berryhill is currently residing at the Northwest Regional Re-entry Center, The Oregonian reported.

Portland Protests
An Oregon man pleads guilty to lighting and throwing a firework at the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, amid the nationwide protests over police brutality. Above, demonstrators hold up their hands in Portland during a protest over the death of George Floyd, who was killed while being restrained by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Craig Mitchelldyer/AP Photo

Agard-Berryhill appeared before U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut.

He pleaded guilty to willfully using an incendiary device in an attempt to damage the courthouse on July 28, 2020, causing more than $1,000 in damage, The Oregonian reported.

Under a plea deal, his lawyer says he's expected to be sentenced to time served, with two years' supervised release for the felony conviction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Portland Demonstrations
A 19-year-old pleads guilty to lighting and throwing an incendiary device at the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, in the summer of 2020. Above, a crowd gathers on Morrison Bridge in Portland during a protest against racism, sparked by the death of George Floyd. Craig Mitchelldyer/AP Photo