Man charged with arson at Thompson Center

Lawrence Reed lit “an unknown substance” on the glass of the building minutes before Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave his daily COVID-19 news conference, authorities said.

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An Illinois Department of Central Management Services spokesperson confirmed Saturday that two potential buyers have submitted their plans to acquire the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center.

A man has been charged with arson for a fire April 23, 2020, at the Thompson Center.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A man has been charged with starting a fire at the Thompson Center Thursday minutes before Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave his daily COVID-19 news conference in the building.

Lawrence Reed, 44, is charged with a felony count of aggravated arson knowing people were present, according to Chicago police.

Reed poured an “unknown substance” on the glass of the building about 2:15 p.m. in the 100 block of West Lake Street and lit it, police said. 

A video shared on social media appears to show flames licking the outside of the Thompson Center. A couple of red-colored containers sit on the sidewalk.

Reed was taken into custody in the 100 block of West Wacker Drive, police said. No injuries were reported.

Pritzker and state heath officials delivered their daily coronavirus news conference from the Thompson Center about 2:30 p.m.

Reed, who lives in Little Village, previously faced misdemeanor battery charges for punching multiple women in the face Feb. 29, seemingly at random, near the Harold Washington Library Center in the Loop, according to police and Cook County court records.

He was arrested for a similar incident in which he allegedly slapped a 42-year-old man in the face at the Halsted CTA Blue Line platform Feb. 21, police said. He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of battery in that case.

He was released on recognizance bonds in both battery cases, according to court records.

Reed remains in custody without bail on the arson charge, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office and court records. He is due back in court May 1.

Read more on crime, and track the city’s homicides.

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