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Rioting conviction from Fifth & Federal clash lands man 1 month in jail
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Rioting conviction from Fifth & Federal clash lands man 1 month in jail

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A Lynchburg man was sentenced to one month in jail this week after being convicted of participating in a riot following a May clash outside Fifth & Federal Station.

Andrew Moore Stegner, 19, pleaded not guilty to felony throwing a projectile at an occupied dwelling and misdemeanor participation in a riot at his Wednesday bench trial in Lynchburg Circuit Court, according to records.

Evidence submitted in the case included stills of videos depicting people gathered around Fifth & Federal Station the night of May 31, including a man alleged to be Stegner.

Police and witnesses have said that a group gathered outside the restaurant earlier that day for a Black Lives Matter protest in the midst of nationwide action following the death of George Floyd. Some of those who attended said they were there in part because of a tweet from the restaurant owner they found to be racist and incendiary — for which the owner has since apologized.

As night fell, officials said, the protest turned riotous, and a number of police officers were called out to the scene. Members of local militia groups came to the restaurant, armed, with the intent to protect it from any vandalism and looters. Videos posted to social media showed some men on the roof of the building with guns pointed toward the crowd.

Investigators have saved videos from that night that have been posted online as evidence, and some have been played in court to show people throwing bricks and rocks at the restaurant and empty Adams Motor Company building beside it. No one from the crowd outside ever entered the restaurant.

Around 21 people have been charged as a result of those events and related events the following night, and law enforcement statements indicate none of those were self-styled militia members in Fifth & Federal.

Stegner was found not guilty of throwing a projectile into an occupied dwelling but was found guilty of participating in a riot.

Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison said Stegner admitted to throwing a rock and she had video evidence of him doing so, but the court found it difficult to tell whether he threw it at the occupied restaurant or unoccupied building next door.

Dennis Englerth, who represented Stegner, said the circumstances of the case were “unfortunate” for his client and the outcome of the trial was “appropriate given the evidence.”

Having testified from the stand, Stegner said he was there to support the BLM movement as a whole and wasn’t aware of any incendiary social media posts by the restaurant owner, according to Englerth.

Records indicate Stegner was sentenced to an active one month in jail.

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