Suspect charged with causing explosion during protests

Felony charges are filed today against a Lafayette man in connection with an explosion at the Black Lives Matter protest in May.

Posted: Sep 23, 2020 4:26 PM
Updated: Sep 23, 2020 9:55 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Felony charges are filed today against a Lafayette man in connection with an explosion at the Black Lives Matter protest in May. Robert Lee Perkins is accused of throwing a bomb at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse around 10:30 p.m. on the night of May 31st.

He has been charged with:

  • attempted arson (level 4 felony)
  • intimidation (level 5 felony)
  • criminal recklessness (level 6 felony)
  • rioting (level 6 felony)

Prosecutors say a Lafayette Police officer recognized Perkins from videos taken at the scene. Sheriff Bob Goldsmith later shared pictures of people they were seeking information about in connection to the violence. Prosecutors said they have video of Perkins lighting the fuse on a red cylinder before a loud explosion at the south entrance to the courthouse.

Goldsmith said Perkins was identified and arrested thanks to the help of the public and the task force put together to investigate the protest. Goldsmith shared pictures of people they needed help identifying from that night. He asked people to send their tips to the task force, comprised of officers from LPD, WLPD, Purdue PD and the Sheriff's Office. Photo provided to News 18 by TCSO on June 3rd, 2020.

"It really shows the strength of the community and the support the community has for law enforcement," said Goldsmith. "We can't do this alone, and it is a community effort."

The protest was largely peaceful until the sun went down and most of the local crowd left. Sheriff Goldsmith told News 18 that day that he didn't recognize the people who were there when things started to turn violent. He said he supports people's right to protest peacefully.

"We don't need to be breaking the law over something we are upset about," he said. "It all comes down to communication, and sitting down at the table with people and having conversations."

Perkins was booked into the Tippecanoe County Jail on June 6 and bonded out the same day.

Prosecutors are now seeking a $100,000 bond.

Anyone with further information from that night can contact the task force at countytips@tippecanoe.in.gov or call 765-775-5141.

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