FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Closing arguments in Allen Superior Court start Thursday morning for a man charged with hurling a homemade bomb that seriously injured an Indiana State Police trooper at the George Floyd protest in downtown Fort Wayne more than two years ago.

The felony trial of Juan Pablo Gonzalez, 45, is expected to wrap up Thursday when Gonzalez’s fate will be known.

Juan Pablo Gonzalez
Juan Pablo Gonzalez

Out of the 100 protesters charged, Gonzalez, who traveled with friends from Elkhart to take part in the protests, faces the most serious charges with the most severe penalties.

The injuries he’s accused of causing by hurling an “over pressure device,” or rigged water bottle, that landed at the feet of Trooper Tyson Waldron could have lasting effects on the victim.

The married Waldron, 43, told WANE TV outside the courtroom Wednesday that he’s had many follow-up medical appointments, still feels pain in the scrotum area and does not know if he will ever be able to father children.

The jury on Wednesday heard from Fort Wayne Police bomb technician Phillip Ealing, who testified that the device, captured in a video by Indiana State Police Detective Caleb Anderson, hit the ground first, leaving a stain.

Whatever household products Gonzalez used to make his destructive device left an orange-ish stain on Waldron’s navy trousers and his protective vest and on the firearm of Trooper Trent Kiefer standing next to him, Ealing said.

Both Waldron and Kiefer were behind the front line of officers on Clinton at Berry streets and charged with making arrests. They did not throw any tear gas canisters, both of them said.

Officers at Clinton and Berry Streets about 15 minutes after Trooper Tyson Waldron was struck by a homemade water bottle bomb. Juan Pablo Gonzalez, 45, is charged with the attack.

When Waldron was struck around 8 p.m., Kiefer saw his fellow officer double over in pain, grabbing the injured area that was bleeding. Waldron was escorted to medics who rushed him to Parkview Regional Medical Center, according to court documents. At the hospital, medical staff conducted an ultrasound and CT scan to check for internal damage and shrapnel.

Anderson was able to identify Gonzalez from video and photograhs he took as he worked security detail. On June 1, 2020, Anderson found Gonzalez’s photo on a protestor’s Facebook page on the date of the incident. The photograph was clear and Gonzalez’s tattoos were clearer and visible, court documents said, matching those he found on his own photos.

On June 6, Gonzalez returned to Fort Wayne for more protest activity and was spotted in Freimann Square Park.

When he was detained for questioning, more photographs were taken and his tattoos also matched prior photos and video. A slightly scabbed-over back injury was consistent with a video taken by Anderson of Gonzalez being struck in the back by a “less lethal device.”

Also corroborating that testimony was Giancarlo Aguilar, a former Allen County Jail cell mate who spent three days in solitary confinement with Gonzalez in December, 2021. When Aguilar was released from jail, he contacted law enforcement about his conversations with Gonzalez who told him that he’d gone to Fort Wayne on May 30 “to blind and kill those (expletives),” referring to police. Aguilar said Gonzalez was disappointed that his device didn’t do more harm.

Gonzalez told Aguilar he showed up to the protests a drain cleaning product, alumininum foil and sodium chloride, the type of products that Ealing said are commonly used to build a water bottle bomb, Aguilar said.

Gonzalez made two more water bottle explosive devices – one blew up in the air and another was thrown at a sheriff’s vehicle, Aguilar said. Gonzalez boasted that he “had the timing down and could tell when they (the bottles) were going to explode.” Gonzalez had tried to pinpoint the riot officer who hit him with a rubber bullet.

For his testimony, Aguilar, in jail for resisting arrest, got out of supervised probation and wasn’t required to take probation-assigned classes that cost money, he said.

Ealing said it wasn’t obvious what kind of household products were used in the device – a device can be crafted with baking soda and apple cider vinegar – but when Waldron’s clothing was tested at an ATF laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, forensic examiners  found sulfate, nitrate and chloride. When the device exploded into the pavement, it made a “loud boom,” in contrast to the smack and hiss of full water bottles.

Gonzalez was one of about 100 protesters arrested during the protests that began on May 29 and actively went on for two weeks. The nights of May 29 and May 30 were the most tumultuous with tear gas, water bottles and pepper spray. On the night of May 29 into May 30, more than 50 downtown windows were broken.

Although Gonzalez is the last of several Allen County felony cases stemming from the protest to be adjudicated, two young men charged with breaking downtown windows with their skateboards have been at large for two years, their warrants also lasting that long.

Jackson W. Kulp and his brother, Austin Z. Chaney-Kulp, have yet to be scooped up, although their addresses on court documents indicate they are local men in their early 20s. Their misdemeanor charges are typical for protesters – disorderly conduct, obstructing traffic, rioting, and criminal mischief.

Gonzalez had two misdemeanor charges for rioting and disorderly conduct dismissed in November. But his current charges, if he’s found guilty, could put him away for  while. He is charged with a Felony 2 detonating a destructive device or explosive with knowledge or intent, two Felony 5 charges for possession of a destructive device and battery with bodily injury to a public safety officer and a Felony 6, the lowest level felony, for battery against a public safety official.

He has been held at the Allen County Jail for more than two years on a bond of $200,000.

The trial resumes at 9 a.m.