Raleigh man facing federal charges for setting multiple fires to businesses following protests

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh man was arrested for setting fires inside two businesses in downtown Raleigh following protests over the death of George Floyd.

Richard Rubalcava, 26, was arrested by special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) on Wednesday, the Department of Justice said.

Rubalcava was charged by complaint with two counts of maliciously damaging or destroying, or attempting to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive any building or other real or personal property affecting interstate or foreign commerce, the DOJ said.

Richard Rubalcava (Raleigh-Wake CCBI)

According to court documents, surveillance video from May 30 inside Budacai Restaurant located at 120 East Martin Street was given to the Raleigh Police Department regarding the restaurant being looted and a fire was set inside.

Court documents state that the video shows Rubalcava entering the restaurant three times.

The second time Rubalcava entered the restaurant he stole the cash register, and the third time he attempted to set a plant on fire inside the restaurant, court documents show. The plant didn’t catch fire, so Rubalcava grabbed a towel, lit it on fire and set it on the countertop.

According to the DOJ, Rubalcava admitted to RPD that he set the fire inside the restaurant.

Rubalcava is currently behind bars without bond in the Wake County Detention Center under a federal inmate hold.

Rubalcava is also facing multiple charges in Wake County. On June 6 he was charged with felony inciting to riot, attempted second-degree arson, and felony trespass during emergency. On June 13 he was charged with first-degree arson, felony inciting to riot, and possess marijuana up to 1/2 oz.

All charges except the marijuana charge date back to incidents that occurred during the protests.

As they try and track down the suspect, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance tells CBS17 it is crafting a new campaign to breathe life back into Downtown Raleigh businesses.

“Each day, over the last week, we’ve had more businesses reopen. Each day, plywood is coming down off the windows,” President and CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Bill King said of the businesses that were damaged by looters.

To draw people downtown, the non-profit is adding more safety ambassadors to patrol the streets, and is working with the city to expand outdoor dining.

“We will need people to keep coming back and helping downtown in the future,” said King. “Instead of cleanup, it’s gonna be things like supporting our small businesses and frequenting downtown again.”

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