Man arrested after lighting firework that was thrown back into his car during Riverside protest: Police

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A man was arrested after lighting a firework then assaulting the person who threw it back into his car during a Riverside protest earlier this month, police said Thursday.

Video shows a car stopped at the intersection of University Avenue and Orange Street, where a crowd of protesters was gathered June 1.

A man emerges from the car and appears to light a firework as several run towards him, one of them quickly picking up the firework and tossing it back into the car, video shows.

A passenger in the car runs out as the fireworks explode, sending sparks flying as the smoke-filled car rolls back. One person appeared to have been still inside the car when the firework went off.

The driver, along with a group of onlookers, then assaulted the person who threw the firework back, the Riverside Police Department said in a news release.

Gabriel Castillo is seen in a photo provided by Riverside Police on June 25, 2020.
Gabriel Castillo is seen in a photo provided by Riverside Police on June 25, 2020.

Investigators used video footage to track down the car and identified 20-years-old Gabriel Castillo of Perris as a suspect, authorities said.

Castillo, who was on probation for evading police, was arrested Tuesday at his home and booked on suspicion of an illegal fireworks violation and probation violations. He was being held on $50,000 bail, according to the department.

Officials said the incident was one of several involving fireworks at the largely peaceful protest that day, including instances where large commercial-grade fireworks were thrown at officers and among crowds of people.

“Once the peaceful protesters began to leave, a sizable group of rioters remained to cause disruption, destruction, and harm to our city,” officials said in the news release. “There were numerous acts of vandalism and several businesses were either looted or attempts made.”

Detectives are also trying to track down and arrest other people seen on video vandalizing property, trying to get into ATMs and breaking into and looting a T-mobile store in the same downtown area.

One of the clips shows a man smashing windows at the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office building.

Police said the incidents combined resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in damages and theft.

Anyone with information can call Riverside police Detective Paul Miranda at 951-353-7119 or email him at

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