By Rick Ritter


BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After last year’s unrest in Baltimore, federal investigators vowed to bring rioters to justice. On Wednesday, one man pleaded guilty, admitting he was trying to prevent firefighters from doing their job as the CVS at Penn and North went up in flames.

“We need to hold accountable the people who try to destroy this city,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney.

A little more than 14 months ago — just days after Freddie Gray’s death — Baltimore turned to mayhem with a clash against officers, looting and fires, as the CVS at Penn and North burned.

On Wednesday, 22-year-old Gregory Butler pleaded guilty to obstructing firefighters. Butler admitted to slicing a fire hose with a knife as crews tried to put out the flames. Now, he could face up to five years in prison.

“It was certainly a heinous crime, and he showed very little regard,” said Dave Cheplak, ATF special agent.

There was a senior center right next door.

“This was a dangerous act because even though he didn’t set fire, he certainly obstructed firefighters and put more people at risk,” said Cheplak.

Butler’s case is just the latest from the riots that federal investigators are prosecuting to the fullest.

Last month, 20-year-old Donta Betts was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors say he was a “key player” in the riots.

Before Betts, 24-year-old Raymon Carter was dealt four years in prison for the burning of the CVS pharmacy.

“There’s no such day as a free day or immunity from prosecution,” said Rosenstein.

Butler’s sentencing is set for September 20.

The investigation into arsons that occurred during the riots continues. Anyone with information is urged to call the ATF hotline.

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Rick Ritter

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