A California man convicted of setting customers ablaze at a local boba shop nearly three years ago has reportedly been released from custody and will not be facing jail time.
On April 28, Brandon McGlone, 49, was found guilty of multiple felonies arising from the incident, which occurred at Feng Cha Teahouse on Durant Avenue on the night of Sept. 14, 2020. Armed with a can of WD-30 and a mini torch lighter, he set the hair of two Asian UC Berkeley students on fire after attempting to burn two other customers outside the store.
Friends of the customers retaliated and beat McGlone, who ended up in an ambulance with a bashed face. Aside from flammable materials, he was also found to be carrying an ax and a knife.
“I was angry, enraged, shocked and scared when the man came up and started the fire,” Angelique Duong, who posted footage of the incident on Twitter, told NextShark. “I did not think that this would ever happen to me or my friends so when it did happen it was just all super shocking and upsetting.”
McGlone was charged with arson, criminal threats, throwing someone a flammable substance, assault with a deadly weapon and possession of destructive devices. He was also indicted on and convicted of assault and gun charges from a separate domestic violence case, according to The Berkeley Scanner.
Court records reportedly show that McGlone is an Air Force veteran who has been suffering from PTSD and substance abuse.
Witnesses who claimed to have met him on the same night said he repeated phrases such as “This isn’t your fight” and “I just want to see my daughter.”
Alameda prosecutors and McGlone’s public defenders struck a plea deal that relieved him of jail time. Instead of prison, he was referred to the Veterans Treatment Court to participate in a diversion program.
Failure to complete the 18-month program could send McGlone behind bars for up to eight years.
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“He must successfully engage in and complete whatever course of therapy is prescribed by the treatment team and abide by whatever conditions are set forth,” Judge James Cramer said on the April 28 hearing, as per The Berkeley Scanner. “If he fails to do so, he could be terminated from the Veterans Treatment Court program and sentence will be imposed.”
Cramer also pointed out that the court’s referral to the diversion program was not in itself a guarantee. If McGlone is rejected by the Veterans Treatment Court, “I’ll rip these papers up and we’ll be back at square one,” he said.
McGlone is scheduled for a status hearing at the Veterans Treatment Court on June 2.