FARGO — Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday, Sept. 30, that a second individual has been charged in federal court in connection with rioting in downtown Fargo in late May.
U.S. Attorney for North Dakota Drew Wrigley said Jonathan Montanez, of Moorhead, whose age was not available, was charged by grand jury indictment with one count of civil disorder, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Wrigley said Montanez was taken into custody by FBI agents Wednesday, and he will be held pending a detention hearing set for Friday in U.S. District Court in Fargo.
According to the indictment, Montanez knowingly committed an act to obstruct, impede and interfere with a fireman or law enforcement officer lawfully performing their duties during civil disorder.
Wrigley said Montanez is suspected of damaging a police vehicle May 30 while agitating a crowd that formed in downtown Fargo following a day of largely peaceful marching by demonstrators through Fargo and West Fargo.
Wrigley said such prosecutions have been encouraged by the Justice Department.
He said U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently informed him and other U.S. attorneys that about 300 federal cases have been filed around the country in connection to unrest that erupted following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.
Wrigley added, however, that he "needed zero encouragement" to pursue such cases, and authorities are working to identify other individuals they believe are tied to unlawful behavior in Fargo May 30.
He stressed any provable cases will be pursued.
Montanez, who before Wednesday had not faced charges stemming from the unrest in May, is the second person to be charged in federal court in connection with the riot in Fargo.
Federal officials earlier filed a charge of civil disorder against Errick Steven Toa, of Fargo, which is believed to be the first case in North Dakota history in which a protester faced a federal charge as a result of civil unrest or rioting.
Toa was one of roughly 20 people arrested in connection with the May 30 riot in Fargo.
He was seen jumping onto the hood of a Fargo squad car and yelling before stomping on the windshield, court documents say.
Officers were inside the car at the time, and Toa was later taken into custody after police saw him punch a civilian in the face, documents allege.
Other rioters were seen throwing rocks, bottles and a Molotov cocktail, according to court documents.
Windows of downtown businesses were broken, JL Beers bar was looted and a dumpster was set ablaze. Some officers were injured.
Toa and others were charged with various crimes in Cass County District Court, though state-level charges against Toa, including a felony count of inciting a riot, were dismissed to clear the way for federal prosecution.