WATCH: Surveillance footage captures suspect with Molotov cocktail, explosion at Travis County Democratic Party HQ – KVUE.com
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AUSTIN, Texas — Arson investigators are searching for a man who placed a Molotov cocktail and a “threatening note” inside the Travis County Democratic Party headquarters in Downtown Austin in the early-morning hours of Wednesday.
A small fire broke out just after 2:15 a.m. at the headquarters located at 1311 E. Sixth St., and employees in the neighboring businesses called 911 and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.
“I wanna make something very clear though,” said Katie Naranjo, the Travis County Democratic Party Chair. “This was an attack.”
Brandon Jennings, an arson investigator at the Austin Fire Department, said at a press conference Wednesday morning that video from the surveillance cameras showed a man mulling around the building before he threw what appeared to be a rock at the window on the front door. The man is then reportedly seen coming back into view with a Molotov cocktail that he placed inside the door. Jennings said what looked like a stack of paper was lit on fire.
“What the individual tried to do last night was light a fire of hate and terror and threatening and intimidation behavior,” said Naranjo.
Jennings said it’s also believed that he put a commercial smoke bomb inside the door.
The building had minor damage, and no staff was inside the building when the fire happened.
When asked if the Molotov cocktail could have destroyed the building, the fire investigator said, “absolutely.”
Naranjo said the man left a threatening note that was “political in nature.”
“Anyone who wears an American flag as a bandana and then throws a Molotov cocktail with fireworks into a building and leaves a note, a threatening note, is a coward,” said Naranjo.
The man was described as wearing a gray shirt with black shorts, black and gray tennis shoes with an American flag bandana on his head. He was wearing a mask.
Jennings, the fire investigator, said that a building down the street, the “Granger Building,” was vandalized about two hours after the fire broke out. The Travis County Ned Granger Administration Building is a government building.
The party chair said at the press conference that the security cameras that captured the incident were installed last year after someone else attacked the building on a smaller scale.
“I want to be clear,” she said. “This was an attack … The Democratic Party believes in free speech, believes in your right to vote, and we will not be intimidated by any individual who takes such a cowardly act as to attack a democratic institution. Our political parties are a part of our democracy.”
The Travis County Democratic Party provided surveillance footage below:
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