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A former volunteer banned from an Arizona Democratic Party office was arrested for allegedly setting a fire at the location last week.
The Phoenix fire and police departments announced that 29-year-old Matthew Egler was arrested Wednesday on arson charges for the blaze he allegedly set which destroyed the Arizona Democratic Party’s Maricopa County headquarters in Phoenix. Surveillance footage from the incident as well as Egler’s own social media posts led to his arrest and a reported investigation by the Secret Service, according to KPNX-TV.
The July 24 fire caused “substantial damage” to the building just days before Arizona’s scheduled 2020 primary election set for Tuesday, August 4. Egler, who had been banned from volunteering at the office “due to the nature of his previous behavior,” according to a joint press release from the Phoenix fire and police departments.
Surveillance video footage showed a man who is allegedly Egler getting out of a car in the parking of the building, approaching the employee entrance before breaking the glass on the door. He is then seen placing an “unknown incendiary device” inside the building and lighting in on fire, court records alleged.
ARREST MADE: 29-year-old Matthew Egler has been arrested in connection with the fire set to the Democratic Party Headquarters. The fire happened after midnight on Friday, July 24 near Central and Thomas in Downtown Phoenix. The fire caused substantial damage to the building. pic.twitter.com/6cXhOppySA
— Phoenix Police (@PhoenixPolice) July 29, 2020
Social media posts about the fire and about his anger with the Maricopa County Democrats were cited in a probable cause statement by police, according to records from the Maricopa County Superior Court, according to AZ Central.
Egler, who served as precinct committeeman of Legislative District 22 from 2016 to 2019, reportedly posted videos on social media that showed him admitting he had set the blaze. His Twitter feed also revealed his disturbing obsession with President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, which reportedly prompted the involvement of the Secret Service, according to KPNX-TV. (*Language warning)
“The Secret Service is aware of this incident. As a matter of practice, the Secret Service does not confirm or comment on the absence or existence of specific investigations,” a spokesperson responded to The Arizona Republic.
Egler, who served as president of The Valley Leadership Council, also posted a video days before the fire, apparently setting voter guides on fire, according to AZ Central.
“That’s all you can do, guys,” he said. “Light things on fire, here I go.”
“This is from the 2016 election, when I got rid of Joe Arpaio for the Latinos,” he said while lighting up the fliers, referring to the former county sheriff who is running for re-election. “Call the state legislature today for an emergency session.”
Egler’s arraignment is scheduled on the same day as the election, Aug. 4. He was arrested after a week-long investigation and being held on $75,000 bail.
“We are deeply saddened and shocked by today’s news, but appreciate the swift action by law enforcement to ensure that the suspect is in custody,” Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini said in a statement along with Maricopa County Democratic Party Chair Steven Slugocki.
“This is a time for all Arizona Democrats to come together as friends and family. This unfortunate incident will not distract or deter us from achieving the goals we set in 2016. We remain committed to our mission to elect Democrats in November,” the statement continued.
“As we work to navigate the process of finding a new home, we want to express our humble thanks and deep appreciation to all those who have reached out during this challenging time and have made generous donations,” they said. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. At this time, we will await further information from law enforcement as this situation develops.”
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