Have you heard how FBI agents identified an agitator accused of torching two Philadelphia police cars during a riot last month? Good "new"-fashioned police work, you could say.
Among the evidence FBI agents collected was news footage of the May 30 riot, as well as 500 or so photos taken by an amateur photographer.
The photos included images of a woman hurling a flaming piece of a barricade into a marked police SUV parked outside Philadelphia City Hall.
The woman was wearing flame-retardant gloves, protective goggles and a blue shirt that said: "KEEP THE IMMIGRANTS, DEPORT THE RACISTS."
She didn't get the shirt at Marshalls.
It was custom made and sold on Etsy, where a user name "Xx Mv" posted a review about it, according to an FBI complaint on filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
She gave it five stars ("fast shipping, thanks very much"), the complaint says.
The URL of that particular account ('alleycatlore') identified the user as living in Philadelphia, according to the federal complaint.
Employing even more rudimentary investigative methods, the agents Googled "alleycatlore" and found a user named Lore-Elisabeth on Poshmark, the complaint says.
They also found an Instagram page with a photo of the masked arsonist and a distinctive peace sign tattoo on her right forearm, it says.
Another simple search -- "Lore-Elisabeth Philadelphia" -- turned up a LinkedIN page for a woman who works as a massage therapist for a company in Philly, according to the complaint (it has since been removed).
The company has a Vimeo account with videos of a woman with that with the same tattoo, the complaint says.
Complying with a subpoena, the seller of the t-shirt produced purchasing records confirming that ‘Xx Mv’ had purchased it, the complaint says.
The shirt had been shipped to a woman in Philadelphia whose driver's license photo matched those of the woman in the Vimeo videos, it says.
FBI agents quickly tracked down Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, 33, took her into custody and charged her with two counts of arson.
She didn't come peacefully, refusing to let them into the house where she was staying and trying to flee, authorities said.
The agents eventually broke down the door and seized a struggling and screaming Blumenthal, they said.
A search of the home turned up the gloves, goggles and backpack the arsonist was wearing, their complaint says.
A federal judge ordered Blumental held without bail.
This prompted a tweet from U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain: “For any of you out there who might have contributed to her bail fund, you can now ask for your money back.”
Blumenthal faces a mandatory minimum of seven years in federal prison -- and possibly much more -- in addition to fines and supervised release if convicted of arson. There's no parole in the federal prison system.
“Homeland Security Investigations fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, including through peaceful assembly and protest,” said Brian A. Michael, the special agent in charge of the federal Homeland Security Investigations office in Philadelphia.
“Unfortunately, a number of protestors enticed violence that resulted in destruction of property throughout the city of Philadelphia," Michael said. "In instances like these, HSI works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to ensure those who inflict damage that impacts the safety and security of our community are held accountable.”
Here's the FBI complaint, with more photos and details: https://heavy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/merged_87745_-1-1592492707.pdf
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