PHOENIX — A Mesa man has been arrested for throwing three fire bombs at the downtown Phoenix jail that broke apart in flames on the sidewalk outside the facility, authorities said Wednesday.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said nobody was injured in the incidents Tuesday, but he called it “an attack on law enforcement, on our detention officers who work there, on police agencies who use our jail and on innocent people who were in the area.”
The attack came a day after former longtime county sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of a criminal charge for disobeying a court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
Michael Anthony Arreola, 27, was taken into custody early Wednesday after investigators traced him to a Mesa address through surveillance video of a white minivan used in the firebombing attempts.
Sheriff’s officials said Arreola is facing multiple felony charges. It was unclear Wednesday evening if he has a lawyer yet.
Arreola allegedly drove up to the Fourth Avenue Jail around 2 a.m. Tuesday and lobbed one burning Molotov cocktail and then came back to throw two more around 7 p.m. before driving off.
Sheriff’s officials said all three incendiaries broke apart on the sidewalk near the areas where jail inmates are released and where police agencies transport arrested people for booking.
At a news conference, Sheriff Paul Penzone said Arreola told investigators a possible motive for the attacks but wouldn’t release it to reporters.
But sheriff’s officials said Arreola has previous arrests for assault, burglaries, and damaging property in Phoenix and Tempe and has been held on those charges in the jail before.
“He has been an inmate detained here in the past,” Penzone said of Arreola.