Man charged with arson in Ottawa apartment fire during anti-mandate protest

Published March 21, 2022 3:51 p.m. ET
Updated March 21, 2022 5:18 p.m. ET

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Connor Russell McDonald, 21, is facing a number of charges in connection with an arson investigation in Ottawa. (Handout)

OTTAWA - An Ottawa man has been charged in connection to the alleged arson that took place in a downtown apartment building early February in the heat of the anti-mandate protest.

Police say Connor Russell McDonald, 21, has been charged with arson causing property damage and disregard for human life, mischief to property endangering life, mischief to property, and possession of incendiary material.

They say there is no information to suggest McDonald was involved with the convoy protest. He's scheduled to appear in court April 1.

Resident Matias Munoz said last month that the morning after the incident, he saw the carpet of the building's lobby was charred, and blackened fire-starter bricks were strewn across the room.

He said the building manager showed him surveillance video, which appeared to show two men light a package of the bricks in the lobby and secure the front door handles together before leaving through the side door around 5 a.m. on Feb. 6.

A second man is still wanted by police, the service said in a press release Monday.

The video also showed a different man enter the building and put the fire out a short while later, Munoz said in an interview at the time.

No one was injured, but there are more than 100 units in the building and residents said they were left frightened about what might have happened.

The fire was started after what residents of the building, which is just seven blocks south of Parliament Hill, described as a particularly difficult night during the protest that caused major disruptions in Ottawa and ended up lasting three weeks.

Several residents in the building reported some kind of confrontation between the tenants and the demonstrators in the early morning hours. Some described people yelling down at the protesters from their windows.

Politicians and police officials have acknowledged that the protest led to a sense of lawlessness in downtown Ottawa at the time, as officers were diverted to Parliament Hill and bylaws went unenforced elsewhere in the core.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2022.

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