National News

MCSO: Mesa man arrested for hurling 'Molotov cocktails' at 4th Avenue Jail

Posted August 3

— "Attacks such as this will not be tolerated."

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone had strong words as he announced the arrest of a man suspected of lobbing three "Molotov cocktails" at the 4th Avenue Jail in two separate incidents Tuesday.

The suspect is 27-year-old Michael Anthony Arreola. He was arrested in Mesa.

Arreola is expected to face multiple felony charges for two separate incidents in which he is alleged to have tossed Molotov cocktails/explosive devices at the 4th Avenue Jail.

The incendiaries broke apart on the sidewalk near the areas where inmates are released and near the sally port where police agencies transport those arrested for booking.

No one was injured in the attacks.

"This was an attack on a Maricopa County Sheriff's office facility, on our detention officers who work there, on police agencies who use our jail, and on innocent people who were in the area," said Sheriff Paul Penzone. "These actions are never acceptable and we will respond rapidly and decisively to protect lives and property."

The first incident occurred just after 2 a.m. on Tuesday, August 1, and the second came just before 7 p.m. on the same day.

In each instance, surveillance video shows a white minivan slowly approaching the building and stopping.

Then, the burning Molotov cocktail can be seen as it is thrown from the driver's window toward the jail. The vehicle then drives away.

Pedestrians were in the area and in the first case one individual narrowly escaped the explosion and fire.

Using jail video surveillance as well as video from Valley Metro cameras, MCSO with assistance from the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC), was able to narrow the suspect vehicle, a late model Mazda MPV, from 200 to less than 20, and to the actual vehicle found at the address in Mesa.

"MCSO and our law enforcement partners developed very a targeted and tight operations plan to get this person off the street," said Sheriff Penzone. "This is why we've been so focused as an office on working with other agencies that have the expertise and tools we all need to stop these crimes."

Immediately after the first incident, MCSO brought together top investigators to search for the person responsible. MCSO employees were notified through a Safety Bulletin that included descriptions of the incident and the suspect vehicle.

"This was one MCSO acting as one MCSO," said Sheriff Penzone. "Sworn deputies, detention officers, and civilian employees came together to find this person and to protect each other from a future attack. I could not be prouder of how we responded."

Arreola has previous arrests for assault, burglaries and damaging property both in California and in Phoenix and Tempe in Arizona.

He has previously been held on those charges in the Maricopa County Jail.

Arreola is being questioned about the fire bombings and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office is preparing charges.

MCSO extends its thanks and appreciation to ACTIC, Valley Metro, Arizona Department Of Public Safety, and the Mesa Police Department for their assistance in identifying the vehicle.

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