Situation Report: North Carolina police shoot man using molotov cocktails on police cars

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Police shot and killed a man reportedly using Molotov cocktails to burn cars in the parking lot of a local police station in Raleigh, North Carolina on May 8, 2022.

Images from local media show at least one police vehicle with a burned-out engine block, although reports did not immediately identify how many vehicles were destroyed or whether police vehicles were uniquely targeted.

The man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was confronted by law enforcement officers but did not stop, ultimately throwing a Molotov cocktail near one of the officers before police opened fire, striking the subject multiple times.

While police have released no information about a possible motive, arson attacks against parked police vehicles is a tactic commonly in use by anarchist and autonomist extremists. In January of this year the Center warned that a common European left-wing extremist tactic of targeting law enforcement vehicles for arson attacks was becoming more prevalent in the United States, following a Molotov attack which burned an NYPD police vehicle while officers were inside a nearby building responding to a call.

Both local and federal law enforcement vehicles have been targeted in such attacks, often while the vehicles are parked outside the precinct or lockups. As the Center wrote in May 2021, following an attack on vehicles parked outside defense contractor Pratt & Whitney:

The attack on the fleet of vehicles falls within a growing modus operandi of attacks against parked vehicles both in the United States and abroad. In March, federal ICE and CBP vehicles were vandalized outside a Philadelphia parking garage.  In April, a New York police officer’s unmarked car was set on fire. In May, multiple police vehicles were reportedly vandalized inside an Oakland Police Precinct.

While the subject in this most recent case is deceased, an investigation into his background and affiliations may prove useful in determining any political motive, and possibly provide insight into networks operating within the North Carolina area. Investigators may also wish to ascertain whether the subject prepared any propaganda statement in advance for release to online media sites, such as Abolition Media Worldwide (AMWenglish.com), or the Antifa-linked It’s Going Down (Itsgoingdown.org) prior to conducting the attack.

If it is determined that the subject had a political motive, local law enforcement in the area may wish to consider at least temporarily heightening any force protection procedures they may have, particularly if left-wing extremist networks publish martyrdom statements or other public support for the deceased. Following the January 2019 death of Antifa-linked Charles Landeros, who was shot and killed by school resources officers after he drew a firearm during a confrontation, unknown suspects planted incendiary devices outside the Eugene, Oregon Police precinct.

The targeted arson of law enforcement and security vehicles is likely to remain a popular target for individuals and groups motivated by an anarchist or autonomist ideology. As a relatively low-cost and easily reproducible “direct action”, arson attacks on police vehicles are seen as exacting a direct economic cost against their preferred opponent while sending an immediately recognizable message in support of the cause of “abolishing the police.”

Kyle Shideler

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