Things just went from bad to worse for Al Talaga. The 32-year old Washington man was already facing charges of looting after he allegedly smashed the windows of a sneaker store in Seattle during riots back on June 1st, and tried to take off with merchandise from the shop. Now he’s facing federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which likely would never have been discovered if he hadn’t allegedly decided to go looting in the name of justice.
Once officers arrived at the Sneaker City in downtown Seattle, several witnesses told them that one of the looters had been stashing merchandise in a Dodge Magnum parked nearby. Police ended up impounding the car, and after a court order, searched the vehicle. Not only did they find some stolen sneakers, they also found a stolen handgun; a .40 caliber pistol that had been reported stolen from a Tacoma home during a home invasion robbery in 2019.
A second handgun was found in the car as well. It’s too bad for Talaga that the car itself wasn’t stolen, because authorities were able to quickly trace the ownership back to the 32-year old felon. On Wednesday, federal authorities moved in and arrested Talaga, thankfully without incident.
There’s a good chance that Talaga wouldn’t have faced serious consequences for his alleged crimes if this case had stayed in the local court system in Seattle. With the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney, however, Talaga’s now facing five years in a federal prison.
Talaga’s not the first person charged federally with firearm offenses during the Seattle riots in late May and early June. Two weeks ago federal prosecutors filed charges against 24-year old Jacob Little of Everett, Washington, who allegedly was caught on camera in possession of a rifle that had been stolen from a Seattle police cruiser on May 30th.
Using not only the images captured of the riot scene, but tips from the public, Seattle Police investigators linked LITTLE to the stolen firearm. Images show a man that appears to be LITTLE removing the heavy bag from a Seattle Police vehicle parked outside the downtown Nordstrom store. The vehicles were heavily damaged and ultimately burned by rioters. The investigation reveals that in electronic messages following the theft, LITTLE appears to be negotiating the sale of the firearm. He states in the messages that he has removed the sling and suppressor and the “red dot” (a type of optical sight) from the rifle. All those accessories were present on the rifle when stolen from the Seattle Police vehicle.
Oddly, Little is facing ten years in a federal prison if convicted on the charge of possessing a stolen firearm, while Al Talaga is facing half that sentence on the felon in possession charge. Given the fact that one of the guns found in Talaga’s car had been reported stolen, it’s curious that federal officials didn’t charge him with possession of a stolen firearm as well.
Many of the rioters and looters likely thought that with all the chaos on the streets, there was no way that the police would be able to identify them and charge them with any crimes. As they weeks went on, they may have rested easy in the mistaken belief that they’d gotten away with their looting and destruction. I can’t imagine they’re resting as easily now while they cool their heels in a jail cell. Whatever their reasons for participating in the looting, I doubt Talaga and Little feel like it was worth the prison sentences now hanging over their heads.