A SWAT team raided the California home of YouTube star Jake Paul as part of an FBI investigation into a looting spree at an Arizona mall during George Floyd protests in May.
Federal agents aided by an armed SWAT team raided Paul’s home in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, on Wednesday morning, reportedly taking several rifles out of the house. Video footage shows Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies carrying at least five long guns from the building.
Paul, a 23-year-old YouTuber with over 20 million followers, is a controversial figure, once described as a “moronic menace to society” over his pranks including angering neighbors by setting fire to furniture in an empty swimming pool. He also made his boxing pro debut earlier this year in Miami.
He was not home at the time of the raid.
Two other properties, in Las Vegas, were also searched Wednesday as part of the investigation, belonging to Paul’s associates’ nightclub promoter Arman Izadi and Andrew Leon. Nobody was taken into custody and no arrest warrant has been issued.
The FBI initially declined to comment on the nature of the investigation, with a spokesperson saying in a statement that “the affidavit in support of the search warrant has been sealed by a judge and I am, therefore, prohibited from commenting as to the nature of the investigation.”
But subsequently, the FBI said it “is investigating allegations of criminal acts surrounding the incident at Scottsdale Fashion Square in May,” Sky News reported.
Paul was in the mall as protests against the killing of George Floyd by a former police officer descended into looting.
The YouTube star, along with Izadi and Leon, was arrested for trespassing and charged with a criminal misdemeanor, but the City Attorney said Wednesday that he had dismissed the charges to allow for the FBI investigation to go ahead.
At the time, Paul rejected any allegation that he was involved in looting.
"To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” he tweeted. "We filmed everything we saw in an effort to share our experience and bring more attention to the anger felt in every neighborhood we traveled to; we were strictly documenting, not engaging."
Police at the time said they had “received hundreds of tips and videos identifying Jake Paul as a participant in the riot.”
“We understand that a search warrant was executed at Jake's Calabasas home this morning while Jake was out of state. We are still gathering information and will cooperate with the investigation,” Paul’s attorney, Richard Schonfeld, told TMZ.
This is just the latest in a long string of controversies Paul has been involved in, most of which he films and broadcasts on his hugely popular YouTube channel. Most recently, Paul was strongly criticized for hosting a party at his Calabasas home during the pandemic.
Cover: Jake Paul of Los Angeles California enters the ring make his boxing pro debut on January 30, 2020 part of Matchroom Boxing and DAZN Miami Fight Night at the Meridian in Miami, Fl. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)