Illinois man arrested by feds in Portland came 'to wreak havoc' at riots, says prosecutor

Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight told a judge on Monday that Bantista was residing in a tent in Portland for three or four days and came to the city “to wreak havoc during these riots.”
Andy Ngo and Mia Cathell The Post Millennial

A federal case filed against a rioter in Portland accuses the man of assaulting a federal officer with a rock—he claims he threw a bouncy ball.

According to the affidavit, written by a Department of Homeland Security special agent, Nicholas Joseph Bantista, 20 of Illinois, hurled a rock that struck the helmet of a Federal Protective Service officer Friday night outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office. Black Lives Matter-Antifa protests resumed in Portland that night after a brief hiatus due to the West Coast wildfires.

After Bantista launched what appeared to be a small rock at the officer, the suspect fled on foot, the criminal complaint says. Bantista then resisted arrest, pulling his arms under his chest and refusing to comply with verbal orders. During the arrest, an airsoft replica gun belonging to Bantista was recovered.

Bantista was found in possession of a pellet gun (left) and a box of nail gun powerload cartridges (right)

Bantista waived his right to silence and admitted to the investigative officer that he threw an object, but maintained that it was a bouncy ball and he “did not intend any violence.” However, the victim said the object that hit him felt denser, and the sound and impact “was more consistent with a rock.”

Batista is charged with assault on a federal officer, a Class A misdemeanor.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight told a judge on Monday that Bantista was residing in a tent in Portland for three or four days and came to the city “to wreak havoc during these riots,” The Oregonian reported.

Bryan Francesconi, an assistant federal public defender representing Bantista, alleged that law enforcement is resorting to “pure hyperbole” to paint his client as a danger to the community. Francesconi reportedly agreed he’d send Bantista to a halfway house for treatment.

Court records reveal that Bantista was on probation from a 2019 conviction for felony aggravated assault of an officer in Ottawa, Ill. He was threatening to kill himself with a realistic-looking gun and brandishing it at responding officers. He fired the BB gun at himself and assaulted the cop that subdued him.

Case overview of Bantista’s 2019 conviction | Photo: LaSalle County online court records??

In June this year, Bantista was also arrested for damaging state property in Illinois.

Nicholas Bantista of Ottawa, Illinois | Booking photo: LaSalle County Jail

Bantista is one of 40 Portland rioters accused of assaulting a federal officer. Another 11 suspects were recently federally charged with felony civil disorder.

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Andy Ngo and Mia Cathell
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