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Tampa Man Pleads Guilty to Burning Down Champs Store During Civil Unrest

Terrance Lee Hester | Crime | Courts

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

TAMPA – A Tampa man has pleaded guilty in federal court to setting fire to a Champs store during an incident of civil unrest in 2020.

Terrance Lee Hester, Jr., 20, of Tampa, pleaded guilty to damaging or destroying by fire a building used in interstate commerce. Hester faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years, and up to 20 years, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

According to court documents, around midnight on May 31, a protest near a shopping plaza located at 2301 E Fowler Ave. in Tampa devolved into civil unrest, looting, and destruction of property. During this disturbance, the Champs Sports store located 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, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida said.

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

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