Frank Gaston, 43, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was accused of arson and other offenses after riots in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, erupted when another man, Ricardo Munoz, charged at a police officer with a knife. The officer shot and killed Munoz.
The District Attorney is investigating the shooting, in which Munoz attacked the officer on video, but wrote, “The footage shows that when the officer gets in front of a residence in the 300 block of Laurel Street, Munoz immediately emerges from inside and runs toward the officer, brandishing a knife above his head, in clear view, in a threatening manner. The officer then fired. No one else was struck by gunfire. To repeat, the incident is under investigation. We do intend to release all findings from the investigation once completed.”
The DA urged protesters to remain peaceful, but the aftermath quickly turned into a riot.
Officers announced the arrest of 12 adults and 1 juvenile. Here’s what they said of Modderman:
Frank Gaston M/43 Homeless- Ephrata, PA Charged with: Charged with: Arson (F1), Institutional Vandalism (F3), Riot (F3), Failure to Disperse (M2), Obstructing Highways and Other Public Passages (M3), Disorderly Conduct (M3) and Defiant Trespass (M3). (additional counts of Criminal Conspiracy for all charges is included on the complaint) Gaston was on probation at the time of his arrest and a detainer will lodged against him.
Speaking of the riots in general (not specific to the claims against Gaston), police wrote that the disorder outside the Police station “escalated as suspects continued to throw items at Police Officers as well as cause damage to the Police station, a parked vehicle and the front of the US Post Office building.”
Lancaster police added:
We have also been receiving calls all morning from downtown business owners as they discovered damage from vandalism to their businesses. Officers continued the use of chemical munitions in efforts to disperse the rioters as the suspects piled street signs, trash cans, a metal dumpster, a metal bike rack, pieces of plywood and a wooden pallet at the intersection of N. Prince St. and W. Chestnut St.
The suspects filled the dumpster with additional trash bags, as well as the wood, and set the contents on fire. Officers made a total of (8) arrests ( The updated total is 12 adults and 1 juvenile ) related to the arson/riot outside of the Police station.
The arrests were made at approximately 0300 hrs. and shortly thereafter. All suspects arrested were transported to the Lancaster Bureau of Police station for processing and to be held for arraignment. (4) of the (8) suspects are from outside of Lancaster County. (2) of the suspects were armed with handguns during the protest and riot. Those handguns were recovered by Officers after the arrests. (Only Montague was charged with an offense related to illegal possession of firearm)
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office wrote in a press release that it is “investigating a police-involved shooting Sunday afternoon that resulted in the death of a man. Lancaster city police responded to a home in the 300 block of Laurel Street about 4:15 p.m. for a reported domestic disturbance. On scene, a Lancaster city police officer fired at a 27-year-old man who was armed with a knife.”
The man, identified as Ricardo Munoz, “was killed and pronounced dead at the scene,” the release says.
“The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office investigates all officer-involved shootings in Lancaster County to determine if force used by police was justified and if a crime occurred. The Lancaster County Detectives are continuing to investigate, and District Attorney Heather Adams will make a final determination on the use of force upon completion of the investigation. However, we would like to release some information based on a preliminary investigation, which included review of footage from the firing officer’s body camera.”
The release continues,
“A police-involved shooting has significant impact on a community, as we are seeing with the large number of individuals gathering in the streets,” District Attorney Heather Adams said Sunday night. “However, I am asking that all reaction be tempered as the investigation is ongoing. We will do our best to release details about the incident in a timely manner. We ask that acts of protest remain peaceful as violence and destruction of property will become headlines and serve no purpose for the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and neighborhoods.”