Tampa police charge woman for inciting rock-throwing during Tampa unrest

TampaBayTimes reports Police arrested a woman Saturday on charges of inciting violence against officers on May 30 during civil unrest along Fowler Avenue at the University Square Mall.

Large-scale protests against police brutality had begun peacefully in Tampa that day. But as night fell, some pockets of the marches turned violent and included looting and destruction. At the mall, a Champs Sports store was engulfed in flames after midnight.

Erica Schmidt, 31, was seen in a video standing next to a silver Hyundai Elantra, saying she had rocks and encouraging people to throw them at officers, according to Tampa police.

“Rocks over here, hit ‘em for me y’all, help yourself,” she said in the video, according to an arrest affidavit.

During the incident, several officers were injured when rocks hit them and police equipment was damaged, according to the affidavit. One rock struck a police vehicle and shattered a window. Three officers at the scene had to take cover while rioters threw rocks and hard objects at them.

Officers traced the car’s license plate to Schmidt and said she matched the description of the woman in the video. They found the Hyundai Elantra parked outside Schmidt’s residence at 11727 12th Street and arrested her on Saturday. Schmidt admitted she and her boyfriend brought rocks to the riot, officers said. She also told officers her vehicle was damaged during the unrest and she was beat up by other rioters.

Schmidt was arrested on three charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, throwing a deadly missile, inciting a riot and unlawful assembly. She is currently being held in the Hillsborough County Jail in lieu of $32,250 bail.