Man in Joker mask set Chicago police car on fire during George Floyd protests, feds say

Timothy O’Donnell, of Pilsen, was connected to the incident downtown through a tattoo on his neck that said “PRETTY,” according to a criminal complaint.

SHARE Man in Joker mask set Chicago police car on fire during George Floyd protests, feds say

A man alleged to be Timothy O’Donnell poses in front of a burning Chicago Police car in Chicago Saturday.

Federal court records

Federal prosecutors have charged a Pilsen man with arson after he was caught on camera setting fire to a Chicago police vehicle while wearing a Joker mask downtown Saturday.

Timothy O’Donnell, 31, is charged in an eight-page, photo-filled criminal complaint. The feds tied him to the incident through a “PRETTY” tattoo seen on the neck of the person wearing the mask. The feds say O’Donnell also admitted being the person who wore the Joker mask after his arrest Tuesday. 

O’Donnell is now among at least five people facing federal charges in connection with the rioting and looting in Chicago last weekend.

A video of the incident that allegedly involved O’Donnell Saturday in the 200 block of North State was given to law enforcement by a witness, according to the complaint. It allegedly shows O’Donnell wearing the Joker mask, holding a lit object and placing it in the gas tank of the CPD vehicle. Prosecutors said the vehicle burst into flames.


A man alleged to be Timothy O’Donnell reaches toward the gas tank of a Chicago police vehicle Saturday in Chicago.

Federal court records

A photograph taken by a witness also shows O’Donnell handling the gas tank, the feds say. In another photo, the person alleged to be O’Donnell appears to be sitting on the ground, against a lamp post, wearing the Joker mask while the vehicle burns. 


The man alleged to be Timothy O’Donnell after fire was set to a Chicago Police vehicle Saturday.

Federal court records

A third photograph allegedly shows O’Donnell posing in the Joker mask in front of the burning car. This time, a tattoo that says “PRETTY” can be seen on the neck of the person wearing the mask. Prosecutors say a CPD photo of O’Donnell reveals the same tattoo. 


Chicago police photo of Timothy O’Donnell.

Federal court records

A family member of O’Donnell’s told law enforcement Monday he lives in a room in an apartment in the 700 block of 19th Place. Authorities obtained a search warrant Tuesday and searched the apartment. The feds say they recovered from a bedroom a Joker mask  similar to the one in the photographs, and O’Donnell was arrested.

Prosecutors said O’Donnell waived his Miranda rights and admitted he was the person wearing the Joker mask in the photos. 


A man in a joker mask, who the feds allege is O’Donnell, is seen after the car is on fire.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times


The police car that was allegedly set on fire by O’Donnell later became engulfed in flames.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Additional federal charges

The charge against O’Donnell follows charges filed Monday in Minnesota against Matthew Lee Rupert of Galesburg, who allegedly traveled to Minneapolis, and then Chicago, to loot and riot. Rupert was arrested in Chicago and will be sent in federal custody back to Minnesota.

Federal prosecutors in Chicago have also charged three people from the south suburbs caught downtown while illegally possessing a firearm. Brandon Pegues was allegedly caught with a gun after fleeing from officers near 801 S. Financial Place early Sunday. Amber L. Peltzer was also allegedly caught with a gun after being spotted peering out of the entryway of a bar early Sunday near 16th and Michigan. And Kevin D. Tunstall was allegedly caught with a gun early Saturday in the back of a Jeep in a parking lot at State and Harrison.

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