Trial begins for man accused of destroying Colossal Cupcakes during last year’s riots

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The trial of a Cleveland man, accused of destroying a downtown business during last year’s riots, began on Monday at the Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse. 

Tandre Buchanan Jr., 24, was among the demonstrators who gathered in downtown Cleveland on May 30, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. 

Investigators say Buchanan was among a group of protesters who went on a rampage and damaged dozens of businesses. One of the shops they targeted was Colossal Cupcakes on Euclid Avenue.

A man in an orange sweatshirt was shown on video using a chair to smash out windows in the shop, before it was looted and destroyed.

Employees retreated to a back room in fear for their lives, and the owner called 911, telling the dispatcher, “they’re in our store and they’re just trashing it, you guys have to hurry.”

After the riot, the FBI attempted to identify those responsible for the damage. Tipsters quickly identified the man in the orange sweatshirt as Buchanan.

As a result of his actions at Colossal Cupcakes, he was arrested on federal charges of interference with commerce by means of robbery and tampering with evidence.

Federal prosecutors contend that after Buchanan realized federal authorities were looking for him, he got rid of the clothes he wore that day and items that he allegedly stole.

During opening statements on Monday, federal prosecutors told the jury that Buchanan damaged Colossal Cupcakes, several other businesses and stole a number of items.

Among the looted businesses was Geiger’s Sporting Goods on Euclid Avenue. Investigators discovered several photos of Buchanan carrying around a mounted deer head that was taken from the store.

After Buchanan was arrested, the FBI seized his cell phone, and agents found text messages that he sent about stealing and even selling some of the items that were looted from various businesses.

During opening statements, Tandre Buchanan’s attorney told the jury that they do not deny that Buchanan damaged Colossal Cupcakes and other businesses, but they deny he stole anything from the shop.

Steven Bradley told the jury that Buchanan was angry and frustrated about the death of George Floyd and the decision by local police to fire tear gas, bean bags and rubber bullets at the May 30 protest. 

The defense told the jury that Buchanan was struck by one of the non-lethal rounds fired by police and that fueled his anger.

The first witness called by federal prosecutors was Kelly Kandah, the owner of Colossal Cupcakes. After the riot, Kandah’s business was shut down for ten months.

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