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Suspect accused of starting City Hall fire charged with additional counts

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The Buffalo man accused of starting a fire inside a City Hall office May 30 was arraigned Thursday morning on additional counts.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office has charged Courtland Renford with one count of arson in the third degree, and one count of burglary in the third degree.

"He was arraigned this morning on a burglary charge in the third degree, for allegedly breaking into a convenience store and stealing some items in the convenience store," said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. "That is not a charge that the feds can can pursue."

Renford already faces one federal count of destruction or attempted destruction of a building involved in interstate commerce, and remains held in federal custody.

The charges are related to alleged activity on the night of May 30, when protests in downtown Buffalo over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis turned to rioting.  Renford is accused of being the man, captured in television images, throwing a burning object through a broken City Hall window that night, starting a fire inside.

The burglary charge is in connection with an alleged illegal entry into the 7-Eleven store at 304 Elmwood Avenue prior to the City Hall incident.

"I don't want to try my case here, beforehand. But let's just say that there was, at the store in question, video footage of what occurred inside the store. I'll leave it at that," Flynn said.

Renford was arraigned virtually by Erie County Judge Sheila DiTullio. His attorney, Sam Davis, entered a plea of not guilty on his client's behalf.

Flynn says the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the new charges.

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