Chicago man set FBI checkpoint on fire — one month after threatening to burn a guard there, federal prosecutors say

Federal prosecutors have charged a man with setting fire to a security checkpoint building outside the FBI’s Chicago Field Office on Friday.

James P. Lofton threatened to burn a guard and kill people at the checkpoint last month, but authorities didn’t file any charges against him for that incident, a Federal Protective Service (FPS) agent said in a complaint.

Visitors must pass through X-ray machines and metal detectors at the checkpoint building before entering the FBI’s offices.

A man identified as James Lofton douses a jacket with liquid and sets it on fire outside the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. | US District Court records

Special Agent William Santiago Jr. said Lofton approached the checkpoint at 2111 West Roosevelt Road around 10:48 a.m. on October 7 and threatened a security officer.

“Bitch, I’m going to burn you, and everyone is going to die. You f*cking Mexicans are going to burn and die,” Lofton allegedly said before packing around the area.

Santiago said that agents from the FBI, FPS, and Chicago police officers interviewed Lofton a short time later.

Lofton asked the investigators for an ambulance, and he was taken to a hospital. But no charges were filed, and Santiago said nothing else happened until around 3 p.m. Friday.

That’s when Lofton allegedly walked up to the security checkpoint building with a jug of liquid. He placed his jacket on the building, doused it with the contents of the jug, and set it on fire, according to Santiago. The federal complaint included surveillance images showing Lofton approaching the checkpoint with a plastic jug and setting the fire.

The same officer that Lofton allegedly threatened to set on fire last month was inside the checkpoint at the time of Friday’s fire, Santiago alleged.

FBI task force officers searched the area for Lofton and took him into custody about two blocks from the bureau’s field office about 15 minutes after the fire started. Santiago said the officers found a lighter on the ground near Lofton.

He is charged with maliciously damaging federal property by fire.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com