Feds Arrest 'Joker' Suspect After Police Car Fire, Say Neck Tattoo Was Giveaway

WBBM Newsradio Staff
June 02, 2020 - 8:38 pm
Man Charged With Arson Clown Mask

image provided by the Northern District U.S. Attorney's Office Illinois


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A Chicago man faces a federal arson charge after allegedly setting a Chicago Police SUV on fire over the weekend while wearing a clown mask. 

Federal prosecutors say Timothy O’Donnell, 31, started the fire by placing a lit object in the police vehicle’s gas tank on Saturday in the 200 block of North State Street. 

This was the timeframe in which police were trying to manage increasingly unruly crowds protesting the death of George Floyd. 

Timothy O’Donnell
Timothy O’Donnell (U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois)

Although O’Donnell was wearing a “joker” mask, a neck tattoo was visible in photographs of the incident, according to an affidavit. It matched a neck tattoo on O’Donnell, one that says, “PRETTY,” the document said.

The suspect was arrested Tuesday, authorities said. The affidavit said "law enforcement recovered a 'joker' mask from a bedroom inside the apartment that is consistent with the mask shown in the photographs." O'Donnell reportedly agreed to an interview with authorities.

“Anyone involved in destructive behavior – such as setting fire to a police car – should know that federal law enforcement will use all tools available to us to hold them accountable,” U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. said in a news release announcing the charge Tuesday.  “We will continue to work with the Chicago Police Department and our federal and state partners to apprehend and charge arsonists and others engaging in violent crime.”

Further information about the case was not available. 

US Attorney Evidence Photo Clown Suspect
image courtesy U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois