The man charged with setting a fire that burned down the massive downtown Los Angeles Da Vinci complex in 2014, causing $100 million in damage, allegedly claimed to have been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
During a preliminary hearing on the arson case in court on Tuesday, a witness, Popaul Tshimanga, said Dawud Abdulwali, 57, made the confession after both men had consumed alcohol and cocaine at a hotel party in Hollywood one week after the Dec. 7, 2014 event took place.
“He was mad,” Tshimanga said, according to the Los Angeles Times, adding that Abdulwali told him that “he burned the building” near the 110 Freeway because “[h]e didn’t like the way the cops were killing black people.”
Abdulwali’s former roommate, Edwyn Gomez, was also present at the hearing and reportedly told investigators previously that he, too, had heard Abdulwali speak with fervor about seeking vengeance for the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in the late summer of 2014.
The Times notes that Gomez said Abdulwali told him, “Cops kill my people,” and “We should go do this, we should go burn some [expletive] down … We should go break some windows.”
However, during Tuesday’s court hearing, Gomez said he did not recall telling officers that he heard Abdulwali make those comments before a prosecutor played the recorded conversation. Gomez said he had been grateful to Abdulwali for taking him in as a homeless person and suggesting that he had not reported Abdulwali to authorities because of that kindness to him, and because he had not taken his words seriously.
There were no deaths involved in the Da Vinci fire, but it took 250 firefighters from the Los Angeles Fire Department to put out the flames, which engulfed all seven stories of the building in under two hours.
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