Jul 31, 2013

Huntington Beach riot: Man falsely ID'd in viral photo is arrested

Huntington Beach riot: Man falsely ID'd in viral photo is arrested
The West Covina man mistakenly identified as the suspect in a viral photo taken during Sunday's U.S. Open of Surfing unrest has now been arrested for other alleged crimes during the disturbance, police said.

Illario Niko Johnson, 18, was booked Wednesday on suspicion of felony arson, inciting a riot, participating in an unlawful assembly and refusing to disperse when ordered, Huntington Beach police said.

Authorities allege Johnson set fires along Main Street as an unruly crowd moved into downtown Huntington Beach after the end of the eight-day surfing contest. Portable toilets were toppled and windows smashed as several fights broke out and looters grabbed merchandise from stores.

Seven people were arrested Sunday evening as about 250 officers descended upon the area to quell the violence.

Two photos went viral after the incident -- one showing a man smashing the Easyrider Bike Shop window with a stop sign, and another showing the same man shouting with his arms in the air.

Those who shared the images on social media indicated they did so in hopes of identifying the person responsible.

The photos were shared thousands of times. "He will pay," one person wrote.

Many on Twitter and Facebook identified the person in the photos as Johnson, whose name was also published in the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets. However, police said Tuesday that investigators spoke to Johnson and determined he was "not the suspect in the photographs."

They noted that although he was likely to face charges for his involvement in the disturbance, his alleged actions were "not related to the window smash."