Man in Joker Mask Charged With Burning Chicago Police Car During Riots

Timothy O’Donnell, 31, was charged with arson. Federal authorities say he set fire to a Chicago Police Department vehicle during unrest in the city on May 30, 2020. (Federal court documents)

A South Side man charged with torching a Chicago police vehicle during the downtown unrest over the weekend faces at least five years in federal prison if convicted, prosecutors said in court Wednesday.

Timothy O’Donnell, 31, was charged with arson in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. O’Donnell was allegedly wearing a “Joker” mask when he approached a police SUV parked in the 200 block of North State Street on Saturday and placed a lit object into the car’s gas tank, causing it to burst into flames.

During a court hearing Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durkin told the judge O’Donnell faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years behind bars.

Federal authorities say this photo shows Timothy O’Donnell near a burning Chicago police vehicle on May 30, 2020, in the 200 block of North State Street. (Federal court documents)

Prosecutors are seeking to have O’Donnell held without bond pending trial. His lawyer, Michael Leonard, said he will ask for O’Donnell’s release, arguing he poses no danger to the community and is “no flight risk whatsoever.”

O’Donnell’s mother is prepared to sign paperwork to act as her son’s custodian while his case is pending, Leonard said.

O’Donnell, who was listening in by telephone from jail, answered, “Yes, your honor” in a soft voice when the judge asked him if he understood the charges.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman set a detention hearing for 1 p.m. Friday.

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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Jason Meisner