Raleigh man charged in ‘George Floyd’ arson

A Raleigh man has been indicted for setting fires inside two Raleigh businesses after a demonstration over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that Richard Rubalcava of Raleigh was arrested on June 18 by special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). He was charged by indictment with two counts of maliciously damaging or destroying, or attempting to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building or other real or personal property affecting interstate or foreign commerce. 

According to the complaint, on May 30,  at approximately 12:13 a.m., a fire was discovered at the Dollar General Express  at 149 East Davie Street, Raleigh. The fire was apparently set after it had been looted by rioters. Video surveillance was obtained from the Dollar General Express  shows Rubalcava enter the business and place numerous items in a Dollar General bag.  Rubalcava leaves and re-enters the business numerous times.  Each time Rubalcava enters the business, he would steal items from the store. 

Further video surveillance captured Rubalcava inside the Dollar General Express setting fire to miscellaneous items located at the end of an aisle.  Rubalcava appears to exit the store after setting the fire. 

Additionally on May 30,  video surveillance from Budacai Restaurant located at 120 East Martin St., Raleigh, was given to the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) in regards to the restaurant being looted and a fire being set inside. After reviewing the video surveillance, RPD identified one of the subjects that entered the business as Rubalcava. 

The video surveillance showed Rubalcava entering the restaurant three times, Staling a cash register and then attempting to set a plant on fire inside the restaurant.  After the plant would not ignite, Rubalcava ignited a towel and places the burning towel on a countertop. 

Surveillance video from both fires shows Rubalcava wearing the same clothing. Rubalcava admitted to RPD officers that he set the fire inside of Budacai Restaurant.

The counts charged in the indictment carry a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.  

Higdon credited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) with the investigation leading to Rubalcava’s arrest and indictment. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel W. Smith of the of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division.

About Jefferson Weaver 1879 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@ColumbusCountyNews.com.