Daniel Hector Mackinnon was sentenced in federal court today to seven years in prison for committing two politically-motivated arsons, including one that endangered the lives of children according to the announcement from the Department of Justice.
During today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes described Mackinnon’s conduct as “cold blooded and cowardly” and expressed concern that Mackinnon is a danger to the community. “In light of what you did, I think every day is warranted,” Judge Hayes told the defendant, referring to the length of the sentence.
According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, Mackinnon’s conviction covered two separate arsons, both occurring in the early morning hours of April 24, 2019. Investigators believe Mackinnon targeted the victims based on the nature of the business and/or their professional/political ties. Beginning early that morning, Mackinnon attempted to set fire to the La Jolla home of a prominent San Diego real estate developer. At the time of the arson, the home was occupied by two adults and three small children, all of whom were sleeping. The defendant poured an accelerant onto the door and ignited it, causing damage to the door. Investigators found remnants of a plastic water bottle, a pry bar and a bottle cap at the scene and were able to tie Mackinnon to the arson based on DNA recovered from the bottle cap.
Mackinnon’s second arson that morning occurred at the Kearny Mesa building of Raytheon, a defense contractor that does weapons systems work for the military at the facility. Based on surveillance video, Mackinnon first drove his car into Raytheon’s building. After his car bounced back, he exited his car and opened the vehicle’s back hatch. A short while later, fire shot out, engulfing the vehicle and causing damage to the building’s exterior. Surveillance video showed Mackinnon fleeing the scene after which he drove into Mexico. A multi-agency effort of federal, state and local partners worked to identify Mackinnon and he was arrested the same day as he attempted to re-enter the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
As set forth in the government’s sentencing memorandum, Mackinnon has previously committed politically-motivated petty crimes in the early 2000s, including remaining at the scene of a riot after being arrested at a Southern Kalifornia Anarchist Alliance May Day demonstration and “keying” a media vehicle at an environment protest.
“Fire is a dangerous and indiscriminate weapon,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Mackinnon’s arsons not only caused damage to a business, but also endangered the lives of small children who were asleep in their homes. Because of the quick response and savvy investigative efforts of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, Mackinnon was quickly apprehended and his crime spree was swiftly ended.” Brewer also thanked prosecutors Caroline Han and John Parmley for working hard to keep the public safe.
“This conviction and sentence sends an important message to those who use violence to express their discontent,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott Brunner. “The FBI will identify and bring to justice arsonists and other violent actors who put the safety of San Diegans at risk.”