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Racially Motivated Firebombing Leads to Suspect’s Arrest

Seven felony charges, including attempted murder, are pending against a California man who is accused of using propane tanks in racially-motivated arson attacks against two black neighbors and police.

Matthew Scott Jones, 39, of Fairfield, California, was arrested in that community early Friday after incidents there the previous evening, police reported.

The FBI is now involved in the investigation, but federal hate crime charges have not been filed.

The first firebombing occurred when an explosive device was thrown into the window of an apartment occupied by two people in Fairfield, a northern California community east of Vallejo, police said.

A small fire quickly was put out by firefighters and bomb squad technicians recovered the destructive device.

The suspect, who previously had directed racial slurs at the two victims, “targeted them” in the attack because they are African Americans, Fairfield police Sgt. Matt Bloesch told the Los Angeles Times. The occupants weren’t injured.

Within two hours, a car was set on fire several blocks away. Then, another explosion, also apparently involving a propane tank, occurred outside the Fairfield Police Department. That firebombing attempt was caught on surveillance video cameras.

Police quickly identified Jones and stopped his car and arrested him a short time later near the fire attack.

After his arrest, two more propane tanks, which failed to ignite, were found taped together at a chemical company in Fairfield, police said.

Jones currently is in custody in the Solano County Jail, charged with attempted murder, committing a hate crime with violence, two counts of arson, two counts of possessing an explosive device and exploding an explosive device with intent to commit murder.

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