OPS investigating arson case after viral tweets allege "Freedom Convoy" protester involvement

Feb 7 2022, 10:28 pm

The Ottawa Police Service is seeking the public’s help in identifying two people as persons of interest in an arson investigation.

On Monday, the OPS announced it was looking for the pair and released CCTV screenshots showing their faces.

“The incident occurred in the early morning hours of February 6, 2022, at a building in the 200 block of Lisgar Street,” OPS’s press release reads. “It’s believed that one or more persons entered the building and started a fire using undisclosed materials. The fire caused minor damage but thankfully no injuries occurred.”

The announcement came a day after Ottawa resident Matias Muñoz shared details about an incident that occurred in his residential building on Sunday night.

In a Twitter thread, Muñoz alleged that “Freedom Convoy” protesters were involved in an attempt to set fire to the apartment building, located on Ottawa’s Metcalfe and Lisgar intersection — the “epicentre of the convoy protests in Ottawa’s core.”

His thread also contained CCTV images of the same two people Ottawa Police asked the public to identify.

Muñoz’s Twitter thread went viral and has been retweeted 17.6K times as of the time of publishing, but the OPS has made no connection to him, his thread, or the protesters in their statement.

Less than an hour after Muñoz’s original tweet, OPS Arson Unit officer Jim Elves replied to his thread asking for his phone number to initiate an investigation.

Here is the full text of Muñoz’s Twitter thread:

“I’ve been hesitating to post this publicly, but I feel I must for the safety of downtown Ottawa residents. Here are the facts: Last night two arsonists brought a full package of fire starter bricks into our building’s lobby at 5 am. The building is located at Metcalfe & Lisgar. We were able to see the building’s video footage of the event. These two men got into the lobby, and began lighting the full package. The building is old and has wood paneling on the walls. It is also located at the epicentre of the convoy protests in Ottawa’s core. One of them taped up the door handles so no one could get in or out. This is the most insidious part of the experience besides the lighting of the fire. After a night of blaring horns and fireworks until 4 am, some residents had yelled & pleaded with protesters outside to stop.

As the fire was being lit, a tenant walked by and nervously asked who they were. One admitted being part of the convoy protests. The tenant quickly got into the elevator and arsonists continued to ignite the package. Once lit, it grew and nearly touched the wood panel walls. The arsonists escaped out the side door as video shows the fire growing. After speaking with many residents, it became clear that certain protesters outside became very aggressive and angry at the tenants in the hours leading up to the arson. Not all protesters, but a few screamed and were clearly upset by the confrontation earlier in the night. A good Samaritan was walking by the door outside and saw the fire. Luckily the door opened after some struggle with the taped handles, he got in and was able to extinguish the flames. It is clear to us, as residents, that this was a blatant reprisal by protesters. Not only have they subjected Ottawa residents to widespread harassment, assault, and aggression, but now an attempt to light an entire building on fire. Our hope is that the @OttawaPolice and @JimWatsonOttawa will [heed] @cmckenney‘s calls for an immediate and firm resolution to the convoy’s occupation. This incident could have ended much, much worse. For anyone wondering how I got the footage, the building manager is a cool dude and let us see it. Police were called once the fire remnants were noticed in the morning and they are investigating. Also, the tenant who interacted with the arsonists did file a report. Police are pulling it all together and taking statements from tenants in the building. I will also add that the cameras are well hidden.

The thread went viral for multiple reasons — some Twitter users wanted to boost Muñoz’s warning for other Ottawa residents, and others were skeptical of his story, asking why no one called the police earlier, and why Muñoz hesitated to talk about the incident until much later.

On Monday afternoon, exactly three hours before OPS issued their call for help in identifying the two individuals, Muñoz added the following tweet to his thread:

The incident occurred the same night that Ottawa declared a state of emergency amid “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations.

If you have any information about the incident or the identity of the two individuals pictured, contact the OPS Arson Unit immediately.

Imaan SheikhImaan Sheikh

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