Mom: GR native arrested in Utah riot a ‘gentle soul’

National

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The mom of a Grand Rapids man arrested in a Salt Lake City riot said her son got caught up in the moment and made a mistake.

“He is a kind, loving, young man, and he’s non-violent,” said his mom, Rose through tears.

Connor Peebles, 21, is in a Salt Lake City Jail on a $250,000 bond, charged with felony criminal mischief and rioting.

His mom said Connor had been vacationing alone for a couple of weeks, hiking and camping in the mountains around Salt Lake City.

“He’s a free-spirited person. I mean, you can’t stop him. He just does what he wants to. He’s just a good kid who got caught up in the moment.”

Rose Peebles said her son, who loves the outdoors, had visited Utah with his girlfriend previously and fell in love with the state.

She said she doesn’t know why he was in downtown Salt Lake City last Saturday, when the riot broke out.

Salt Lake City Police posted a video screengrab on Twitter, asking the public to help identify Connor Peebles and at least two other men caught on video damaging a police cruiser.

The video screen grab posted by Salt Lake City Police, asking the public to help identify Connor Peebles and at least two other men caught on video damaging a police cruiser.
The video screen grab posted by Salt Lake City Police, asking the public to help identify Connor Peebles and at least two other men caught on video damaging a police cruiser.

Peebles said her son turned himself in, and court documents show he admitted to police that he damaged the patrol car and threw water bottles at police.

Peebles’ mom is pleased that her son is taking responsibility for his actions.

The 21-year-old is charged with overturning the cruiser, but he is not accused of setting it on fire.

Photos of burning cars in Salt Lake City, Utah found in the criminal complaint on May 30, 2020.
Photos of burning cars in Salt Lake City, Utah found in the criminal complaint on May 30, 2020.

Two other men, caught on video using incendiary devices to burn the cruiser, are charged federally with arson.

Peebles is facing state charges only, though our Nexstar sister station in Salt Lake City, KTVX, reports police are passing Peebles’ information on to the FBI for further investigation.

In his mug shot, the Grand Rapids native is wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a fashion that has been associated with a far-right extremist movement.

But Peebles’ mom said her son has no connection to any such group and is not anti-police nor racist.

She said her son just likes Hawaiian shirts and pointed out that he was not wearing one during the riot itself.

She also said her son has not taken part in protests previously and was not paid to do so in Salt Lake City.

“He’s a very peaceful person,” said Rose Peebles, who also referred to her son as a “gentle soul.”

“It is not in his character to do something like this…. He’s a loveable person. You meet him, you get to know him, you just can’t get enough of him. Everybody loves hanging around with him.”

Connor Peebles does not have a criminal record in Michigan, though records show he pleaded guilty in Iowa to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge from November 2019.

A Salt Lake City police officer was initially driving the car that was ultimately destroyed, but she was able to escape before it was overturned.

“As (the officer) drover her marked patrol car, she was stopped by a crowd of people at 210 East 400 South,” wrote authorities in the charging document.“The crowd surrounded the patrol car and began pounding on the windows. (The officer) requested help, and other officers arrived. The officer was able to assist (the officer) out of her patrol car and into another vehicle.”

According to the court document, a detective reviewed video from the protest and saw a crowd of at least eight protesters, including Peebles, pushing the patrol car over to its roof.

The riot charge Peebles is facing carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The criminal mischief charge has a “gang” enhancement attached to it because the crime involved multiple people.

Because of that designation, the charge carries up to life in prison upon conviction.

Peebles is due back in court on June 19 in Salt Lake City. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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