U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber has sentenced Terrance Lee Hester Jr. (21, Tampa) to five years in federal prison for damaging or destroying by fire a building used in interstate commerce. The court also ordered Hester to pay restitution and to serve three years of supervised release following completion of his prison sentence.
According to court documents, the events that led to Hester’s conviction occurred around midnight on May 31, 2020, in a shopping plaza located at 2301 East Fowler Avenue in Tampa. Simultaneously with a peaceful protest going on in the area, certain individuals began to loot and destroy property, including setting fire to the Champs Sports store located in the plaza. The building, which also housed other businesses, became fully engulfed in fire, resulting in major damage and loss of property. The loss to the building, the Champs Sports store, and the other businesses is estimated at $1.25 million.
Video footage obtained by investigators revealed that Hester tossed a flaming piece of cloth into the Champs Sports store through a broken window. Fire investigators determined that the fire originated inside the Champs Sports store, and Hester’s act caused or contributed to the cause of the fire.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Tampa Police Department, and Tampa Fire Rescue. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Sinacore.