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Santa Ana man threw fireworks at police during protest, authorities say

Santa Ana police found a cache of weapons and ammunition in a suspect's home.
Santa Ana police arrested Jon Paul Worden and found a cache of weapons and ammunition in his home.
(Santa Ana Police Department)

Santa Ana police officers have arrested a man they say threw fireworks at authorities and brandished a handgun during a Sunday protest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Police observed a man throwing what was described as “mortars” at a line of officers and Orange County sheriff’s deputies, Santa Ana police spokesman Anthony Bertagna said.

Officers monitored the man — later identified as Jon Paul Worden, 32 — after spotting a handgun on his hip and then watching him show the weapon to other protesters. The gun was hidden by the man’s shirt, and police watched as he lifted his shirt and brandished the firearm at other protesters.

Police did not apprehend Worden at the demonstration because of concerns about the safety of the crowd, Bertagna said.

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“Although the overwhelming majority of demonstrations have responsibly involved nonviolent participants, armed suspects such as in this case, [compromise] the safety of everyone involved,” Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin said.

“Originally we had 1,500, 1,700 peacefully marching, expressing their 1st Amendment rights,” Bertagna said.

But as the protest wore on, some people began to throw rocks, bottles and fireworks at officers, and police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.

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Police made 10 arrests at the protest, and two officers were transported and treated for injuries related to fireworks thrown at them, Bertagna said.

A mug shot of Jon Worden, who police say threw fireworks at officers and brandished a firearm at a protest.
Police say Jon Worden threw fireworks at police and brandished a firearm at a protest.
(Santa Ana Police Dept.)

Officers followed Worden and a man later identified as his father after the protest. Police tried to stop their vehicle and eventually called off a pursuit because of Worden’s erratic driving, according to a news release said.

The vehicle was later found at Worden’s residence in the 2600 block of West Stanford Street. After a Santa Ana Police Department helicopter spotted him leaving the back of the home, officers detained him.

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A search of the house uncovered more than 600 pounds of illegal fireworks and mortars and a cache of weapons, including four AR-15 assault weapons. In addition, thousands of rounds of ammunition, several high-capacity magazines and bulletproof and load-bearing tactical vests were found, police said.

Worden was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm and ammunition after felony, assaulting officers with a deadly weapon and possessing high-capacity magazines. He was released from custody after posting $50,000 bond, Bertagna said Wednesday.

Worden’s father was also detained but released and not booked, authorities said.


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