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Courts & Justice

Man Pleads Guilty To Leaving Backpack With Explosives In Downtown Pittsburgh During Social Justice Protests

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90.5 WESA
The scene at one of the earliest social justice demonstrations in downtown Pittsburgh in late May 2020.

A Pittsburgh man has pleaded guilty to leaving a backpack containing homemade explosive devices in a bush outside of a complex in the city’s downtown area during last year’s protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Matthew Michanowicz, 53, pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Authorities said he was seen on surveillance video placing the military-style backpack near a bike rack under some trees at PNC Plaza on May 31, 2020. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Smolar said it contained three improvised explosive devices filled with gasoline, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Authorities said Michanowicz originally told them he had gone to the area to see the property damage that occurred during the protests but initially denied any knowledge of the backpack. Sentencing for Michanowicz, who was originally charged with arson and possessing weapons of mass destruction, is scheduled for Dec. 13.