Man sentenced to 5 years for tossing molotov cocktails into National City home

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A Spring Valley man who threw a pair of Molotov cocktails — neither of which fully ignited — into a National City home occupied by three children was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Sylvester Andrews Jr., 39, set a vehicle on fire outside the victims’ home and threw two Molotov cocktails through a bedroom window on the morning of May 20, 2018.

Prosecutors say the attack occurred because “Andrews had a dispute with a parent of the juvenile victims.”

Gasoline was found inside the Molotov cocktails and was also possibly used to set fire to beach towels placed upon the vehicle set aflame outside the home.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said surveillance footage, text messages and DNA evidence tied Andrews to the crime.

“This defendant’s actions put three children at great risk because of a grown-up grudge, and the price for that is prison,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This is a fitting sentence for an offender who used an explosive device to settle a score.”

Andrews was also charged by state prosecutors in an unrelated East County case in which he pleaded guilty to burglary, assault and unlawful driving of a vehicle.

Prosecutors allege the van stolen in that case was being driven by Andrews during the time of the arson. He was sentenced to six years in state prison in that case, then indicted in late 2020 in the federal case.

According to a defense sentencing memorandum, Andrews is an Army veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, which Andrews’ attorney says was a primary driver behind the offense.

“The psychological toll on Mr. Andrews has affected his relationships with his family and ultimately resulted in his actions that led to this offense,” attorney Lupe Rodriguez wrote in the sentencing memo.

Rodriguez wrote that Andrews is “sincerely apologetic” to the victims, but also “believes that this case truly saved his life. He now accepts the fact that he needs extensive psychological treatment and he is motivated to get that treatment once he is released from custody.”

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