Man charged with arson in Ottawa apartment fire during protest against mandate

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

Published Monday, March 21, 2022 3:51 PM EDT

Last updated on Monday, March 21, 2022 5:18 PM EDT

OTTAWA – An Ottawa man has been charged in connection with the alleged arson attack that took place in a downtown apartment building in early February in the heat of the anti-mandatory protest.

Police say Connor Russell McDonald, 21, has been charged with arson that caused property damage and disregard for life, mischief to property that endangers lives, mischief to property and possession of incendiary material.

They say there is no information to indicate that McDonald was involved in the convoy protest. He is due to appear in court on April 1.

Resident Matias Munoz said last month he saw the morning after the incident that the carpet of the building’s lobby was charred and that there were blackened firelighters throughout the room.

He said the building manager showed him a surveillance video, which showed two men lighting a package of rocks in the lobby and tying the front door handles together before leaving the side door around 5 a.m. on Feb. 6.

A second man is still wanted by the police, the service said in a press release on Monday.

The video also showed another man entering the building and extinguishing the fire moments later, Munoz said in an interview at the time.

No one was injured, but there are more than 100 units in the building and residents said they were afraid of what could have happened.

The fire started after residents of the building, which is just seven blocks south of Parliament Hill, described it as a particularly difficult night during the protest that caused major disruption in Ottawa and ended up lasting three weeks.

Several residents of the building reported some sort of confrontation between the tenants and the protesters in the early morning hours. Some described people shouting at the protesters from their windows.

Politicians and police officials have acknowledged that the protest led to a sense of lawlessness in downtown Ottawa at the time, as officers were diverted to Parliament Hill and bylaws were not enforced elsewhere in the core.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 21, 2022.

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