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Tampa Man Arrested in Connection with Burning of Champs During Turmoil

Terrence Lee Hester Jr | Terrance | US Attorney

The estimated loss to the building, the Champs Sports store, and other businesses in the plaza is about $1.25 million, according to the U.S. attorney.

TAMPA – A Tampa man accused of setting fire to a Champs has surrendered to federal authorities in Oswego, NY, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said.

The arrest of Terrance (Terrence) Lee Hester Jr., 20, of Tampa, was based on a criminal complaint for damaging or destroying by fire a building used in interstate commerce. After an initial appearance on Friday (July 10) afternoon in the Northern District of New York, Hester remains in custody. If convicted, Hester faces a minimum mandatory penalty of five years, up to 20 years, in federal prison.

According to the complaint, on May 30 and May 31, a protest near a shopping plaza at 2301 E Fowler Avenue in Tampa devolved into civil unrest, looting, and destruction of property. During this disturbance, the Champs Sports store in the shopping plaza was set on fire. The building became fully engulfed in fire, resulting in major damage to the building and the loss of property. The estimated loss to the building, the Champs Sports store, and other businesses in the plaza is about $1.25 million.

Video footage obtained by investigators revealed that Hester was one of the individuals participating in the civil disturbance, and that he tossed a flaming piece of cloth into the Champs store through a broken window. Fire investigators determined that the fire originated inside the Champs store and that Hester’s act caused or contributed to the cause of the fire.

A complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

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