Man gets 15 years for arson, looting during Baltimore unrest

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jun 24, 2016

A Baltimore man charged with arson and looting during the 2015 riots was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. 

Donta Betts, 20, was charged with making a destructive device in connection with the riots, arson, looting, assault and other mayhem in April of 2015. He was also charged in an unrelated case that happened in July 2015, where he shot a person who owed him money for drugs.

“It may sound like a story arc from a TV series, but it is real life in Baltimore," U.S. Attorney Rodney Rosenstein said in a news release.

Related: Man admits to arson, looting, assault during Baltimore riots

According to the prosecution, Betts threw rocks at police; attempted to destroy police cars; stole from a pharmacy, liquor store and shoe store; and set off a homemade bomb during the Baltimore riots. Betts had been captured on surveillance video and photographs participating in these crimes.

On July 2, 2015, Betts also shot and attempted to kill a woman who allegedly owed him money for heroin. According to the plea agreement, Betts expected to be paid $40, but the woman only paid about $20. He was arrested July 7 and charged in state court for attempted first-degree murder and other offenses.

While he was detained on July 18 and 19, Betts made calls to a friend, asking them to obtain a signed affidavit from the victim saying that Betts did not shoot her. But during the call, Betts admitted to the shooting. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services was recording the call and was able to obtain this information.

Investigation into the arsons that happened on April are still underway. Police are asking anyone with information to call the ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-FIRE. ATF continues to offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any individual responsible for these incidents.

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