A white, would-be bomber avoided jail time after getting sentenced to probation and house arrest this week.
On May 31, 2020, the streets of downtown Pittsburgh were a chaotic scene after protests broke out following the murder of George Floyd just six days prior. More than 40 people were arrested and Pittsburgh city officials imposed a curfew.
The following morning, Matthew Michanowicz rode his bike to the scene downtown to examine the aftermath. The 53-year-old wheeled up to the plaza of a skyscraper, planting a backpack containing three homemade bombs inside underneath a bike rack, before taking off.
Police officers discovered the backpack after getting a tip about a suspicious bag. When they walked up to the bag, they smelled a strong odor and called the bomb squad who discovered the repurposed spray paint cans filled with gasoline. Michanowicz was swiftly identified, arrested, and charged.
The bombs never went off, but federal prosecutors argued they could have killed anyone passing by the downtown area.
In August, Michanowicz pleaded guilty to illegally possessing three destructive devices and was indicted.
On Monday (December 6), Michanowicz, facing a 10-year prison sentence, avoided more jail time, and was instead handed down a sentenced of three years’ probation –– the first six months of which are to be served on house arrest.
Prosecutors had requested Judge Donetta Ambrose for a prison sentence between two and half and a little more than three years.
Ambrose hasn’t publicly commented on the sentencing, but Michanowicz’s attorney, Ken Haber told The Washington Post, the judge might’ve considered his client’s hardships that led up to the attempted bombing –– including the loss of his job, divorce and two deaths in his family.
“I think the judge was somewhat convinced that he had a breakdown,” Haber said. Michanowicz, Haber added, insisted he never meant for the devices to go off.
Then-US Attorney Scott Brady denounced Michanowicz’s actions at the time, pushing back against the narrative that he “just had a breakdown.”
“Michanowicz brought a backpack full of homemade Molotov cocktails to downtown Pittsburgh. He wasn’t there to protest; he was there to engage in violent acts.”
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