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Case Number: 3:21-cr-00205-HZ
Judge: Marco A. Hernandez
Court: United States District Court for the District of Oregon (Multnomah County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Portland, Oregon criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with unlawful possession of a destructive device.
Malik Fard Muhammad, age 25, traveled to Portland with his girlfriend from their home in Indianapolis to violently engage in area riots. On September 5, 2020, during a large civil disturbance in east Portland, demonstrators threw dangerous objects at police, including commercial grade fireworks, Molotov cocktails, and bottles. At least one demonstrator was seriously burned by a Molotov cocktail thrown in the direction of police. Muhammad was present at this event and provided baseball bats to members of the crowd.
Following Muhammad’s arrest in October 2020, law enforcement seized his cell phone and found messages where he bragged about providing the baseball bats to other rioters. The cell phone also contained a shopping list including common supplies used to make a Molotov cocktail. The day after the demonstration, police located a discarded baseball bat with a Goodwill price tag in the area where the event occurred. Police found the Goodwill store where the bat was purchased and obtained surveillance footage showing Muhammad and his girlfriend buying the bats and several “growler” bottles.
On September 21, 2020, during a large demonstration near the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Penumbra Kelly Building, law enforcement observed an individual light on fire and throw an object toward the building. One officer observed the burning object flying through the air toward his vehicle, landing approximately 15 feet from a police sound truck. Officers recovered the unexploded device. It consisted of a yellow glass growler with a Goodwill sticker on the bottom, a cloth wick, and an ignitable liquid. It was later determined that the growler was one of the items purchased at Goodwill by Muhammad and his girlfriend. A DNA analysis also linked the growler to Muhammad.
On September 23, 2020, protesters set fire to and broke windows at the Multnomah County Justice Center. When officers advanced toward the crowd, an individual threw a Molotov cocktail in a large yellow growler that landed in front of the officers, shattered, and exploded into a large fireball. While some officers were able to move out of the way, one officer’s leg caught fire. Several videos obtained by law enforcement show Muhammad throwing the explosive device.
On October 11, 2020, police were monitoring a protest involving approximately 250 people in downtown Portland. Members of the group began heavily vandalizing various buildings and parks including the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University, a Starbucks coffee shop, and a Bank of America branch, among others. Law enforcement observed Muhammad in the crowed dressed in black. Portland Police officers reported observing Muhammad using a metal baton to smash the windows of several buildings and arrested him after a short chase. Muhammad possessed a loaded handgun magazine in his pocket. A loaded handgun matching the magazine found on Muhammad’s person was found discarded near the location of his arrest.
Muhammad’s trip to Portland does not appear to be an isolated event. Investigators obtained evidence that he traveled to Louisville, Kentucky in August 2020 to meet with anti-government and anti-authority violent extremist groups to conduct firearms and tactical training. Investigators also obtained several public social media posts by Muhammad promoting violence toward law enforcement in other cities including Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Chicago.
On May 28, 2021, Muhammad was charged by criminal complaint with possession of unregistered destructive devices, engaging in civil disorder and obstructing law enforcement, and using explosives to commit a felony. Later, on June 15, 2021, a federal grand jury in Portland indicted Muhammad on the same charges.
Possessing an unregistered destructive device is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison per count of conviction. With Muhammad’s continued acceptance of responsibility, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will recommend a sentence of 10 years in federal prison. He will be sentenced on June 21, 2022 before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marco A. Hernandez.
Today’s change of plea is part of a global resolution of Muhammad’s federal and state criminal cases. He is scheduled to plead guilty and be sentenced in Multnomah County Circuit Court tomorrow.
U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
The Portland Police Bureau, FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam E. Delph is prosecuting the case.
18:231(a)(3) Civil Disorder
18:844(h)(1) Using an Explosive to Commit a Felony
26:5841, 5861(d) and 5871 Unlawful Possession of a Destructive Device
(a) Central registryThe Secretary shall maintain a central registry of all firearms in the United States which are not in the possession or under the control of the United States. This registry shall be known as the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. The registry shall include—
(1) identification of the firearm;
(2) date of registration; and
(3) identification and address of person entitled to possession of the firearm.
(b) By whom registered
Each manufacturer, importer, and maker shall register each firearm he manufactures, imports, or makes. Each firearm transferred shall be registered to the transferee by the transferor.
(c) How registered
Each manufacturer shall notify the Secretary of the manufacture of a firearm in such manner as may by regulations be prescribed and such notification shall effect the registration of the firearm required by this section. Each importer, maker, and transferor of a firearm shall, prior to importing, making, or transferring a firearm, obtain authorization in such manner as required by this chapter or regulations issued thereunder to import, make, or transfer the firearm, and such authorization shall effect the registration of the firearm required by this section.
(d) Firearms registered on effective date of this Act
A person shown as possessing a firearm by the records maintained by the Secretary pursuant to the National Firearms Act in force on the day immediately prior to the effective date of the National Firearms Act of 1968  shall be considered to have registered under this section the firearms in his possession which are disclosed by that record as being in his possession.
(e) Proof of registration
A person possessing a firearm registered as required by this section shall retain proof of registration which shall be made available to the Secretary upon request.
Outcome: Defendant pled guilty to two counts of possessing unregistered destructive devices.