Carlos Espriu is a 23-year-old Palm Desert, California, man who is accused in a federal complaint of firebombing the East Valley Republican Women Federated office in La Quinta.
The firebombing was captured on surveillance video, which you can watch later in this article. The federal criminal complaint accuses Espriu of attempted arson in the May 31 firebombing. He’s currently in the Riverside County Jail and will be taken into federal custody on September 10, a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice says.
Espriu made clear his dislike for President Donald Trump and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on social media.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Complaint Accuses Espriu of Using a Metal Bat to Break Windows Before Lighting the Incendiary Device
The firebombing unfolded just after 1:15 a.m. on May 31, the criminal complaint and a DOJ press release alleges. The press release contends that “a masked Espriu used a metal baseball bat to break windows at the EVRWF headquarters, and then he lighted an improvised incendiary device constructed of three bottles that he tossed through the windows before fleeing.”
The Republican group offered a reward after the firebombing and that generated tips that allowed law enforcement officers to identity Espriu, the complaint says. “Three members of the community came forward to law enforcement, with two people
identifying Espriu by name,” it says.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office also announced the charges against Espriu, saying he was arrested at 6:30 p.m. on September 9 by members of the Riverside County Gang Impact Team. “Espriu was booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside where he was being held in lieu of $1 million bail,” police wrote.
FEDERAL FIREBOMBING CHARGE: A 23-year-old Palm Desert man is facing a federal charge of attempted arson in connection with the firebombing of a Republican women's club in La Quinta on May 31. https://t.co/C6gN5TUgAa pic.twitter.com/ckUE1sm3D1
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) September 10, 2020
He is also facing a state charge. Espriu “has been charged by the DA’s Office with one count of arson of a structure during a state of emergency with an enhancement of using a device designed to accelerate a fire or delay ignition, and one count of igniting a destructive device with the intent to destroy property.”
“After CAL FIRE firefighters extinguished the small fire inside the building, arson investigators determined it was intentionally set and caused by an incendiary device. Investigators found three glass bottles containing ignitable liquid inside the building – one bottle that was broken and burned, the other two still intact,” the DA’s release states.
2. Part of the Attack Was Captured on Surveillance Video, Authorities Say
Several minutes later, the press release says, “surveillance video shows Espriu returning to the EVRWF office, smashing more windows with the bat and reaching into building to retrieve the Molotov cocktails before walking away with the device.”
According to the release, Espriu “returned to the EVRWF office about 30 seconds later, this time without a mask, and threw the set of bottles into the facility, which immediately caused a fire to start.”
Surveillance video was obtained both from the Republican facility and a nearby business, according to the release.
3. Espriu Is Accused of Writing About Wanting to ‘Go Burn Sh**’ Three Days Before the Arson
Authorities wrote in the release that they scoured Espriu’s social media. “Law enforcement identified social media accounts believed to belong to Espriu, including a Twitter account that, three days before the EVRWF arson, tweeted: ‘I wanna go burn sh** n get hit with tear gas,'” the complaint says.
“They also observed Espriu repeatedly using a vehicle closely resembling one seen on the surveillance footage.”
Espriu’s Twitter account is now privatized. However, it contains a cover graphic of a person peeing on the word “I.C.E.”
4. Espriu’s Social Media Shows a Photo With Weapons & Declares ‘F*** Trump’
Espriu’s cover photo on Facebook shows a man holding a large gun. The photo doesn’t look like him, though. He shared a graphic that read, “he white but he still my (N word).”
He wrote that he lives in Palm Desert, California, and is from Magdelena de Kino, Sonora.
His Twitter links to a music page that says, under “about,” the words “f*** Donald Trump.”
Espriu indicated an interest in music, writing in 2017, “Follow me on Spotify, lots of new music dropping next month 🚀” In 2011, he wrote, “Got out of school early, to go to Disney Land? F*** Yes!”
5. Authorities Say They Found Audio Recordings in Which Espriu Discussed Making Molotov Cocktails
The evidence includes a green lighter similar to the one used to light the Molotov cocktails, the release says. It also says that authorities recovered “audio recordings from a dashboard camera.”
In them, Espriu “tells a woman in late June that he shaved his facial hair after seeing some of the surveillance video broadcast on local news. In the audio recordings, Espriu tells the woman how he manufactured the Molotov cocktails by filling three bottles with gasoline and inserting a towel into one bottle, and then he recounts the details of the firebombing as seen on the surveillance video,” according to the release.
The damage was limited to the building.
If convicted of the offense, Espriu faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and up to 20 years.