A woman who was filmed lighting police cars on fire during a Black Lives Matter demonstration has been arrested after she was recognised due to a distinctive hand tattoo and her mismatched eyebrows.
Margaret Aislinn Channon, 25, is now facing federal arson charges after footage of her allegedly torching five police cars in downtown Seattle on May 30 was released.
In the vision, widely shared on social media, a woman is seen wearing a bandana over her nose and mouth torching the cars. Police found a high quality photograph of the same woman and were able to zoom in to see a distinct W-A-I-F tattoo on her left hand.
Identifying the suspected arsonist
A court document says police subsequently found a missing person Facebook post from February, 2019 for Margaret Aislinn Channon listing the same W-A-I-F tattoo in her description.
Agents confirmed Channon currently lives in Washington and found an Instagram account that matched her missing persons photo and her driver’s licence picture. They found a post on the account that showed the user’s hand with the W-A-I-F tattoo.
They identified Channon as being at the protest on May 29 and then compared her photo to that of the arsonist taken on May 30.
They determined both persons had the same clothes, had unique eyebrows and had an “X-pattern” tattoo on their right shoulder.
The court document explained the unique eyebrows that were spotted on both Channon and the picture of the arsonist.
The matching ‘failing’ eyebrows
“As depicted in Channon’s DOL [Department of Licensing] photograph, she has both tattooed eyebrows and natural eyebrows, with the two failing to line-up perfectly,” the document read.
“This results in uneven eyebrows that are thicker and thinner in certain places and are thus irregularly shaped.
“Specifically, the tattooed portion of Channon’s right eyebrow has a steep, sharp peak that is not seen on her left eyebrow.
“This unique eyebrow feature is also seen on the arsonist in still frames of a video taken on May 30.”
While executing a search warrant at Channon’s home, authorities said they found clothing and other accessories that she was allegedly wearing in the videos, WDRB reported.
“This defendant was captured by multiple cameras using an accelerant, lit like a blowtorch, to start fires in five vehicles,” US Attorney Brian Moran said in a statement according to WDRB.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda of the Seattle Field Office said the First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to express their opinions and peacefully protest.
“What it does not provide is the right to invoke violence under the guise of free speech,” he told WDRB.
Channon is due in court Friday afternoon (local time) and could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted of federal arson.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.