“We are heartbroken by the charges against Vinnie, whom we know and love as a baptized and beloved child of God,” Pipho said in a phone interview. “We pray for Vinnie’s protection and guidance in the upcoming legal process, and for the family at this difficult time.
The June 1 protest in Worcester had turned tumultuous by 10 p.m. The crowd threw rocks, bottles and set off firecrackers at police as they held a tactical line formation on Main Street.
Officer Ilirjan Jano reported that he spotted 18-year-old Eovacious on a rooftop stuffing a rag into a bottle filled with liquid and trying to light it. He said he also heard Eovacious yelling at the crowd to “kill the police,” according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
Eovacious wore a trench coat and carried five white rags and three half-filled glass bottles of gasoline, brewing more than one Molotov cocktail, in a shoulder bag, according to the complaint. He also had two lighters.
After reading his rights to Miranda, Eovacious allegedly admitted that he was part of the “anarchist group”. According to the complaint, Eovacious told the arresting officers that he was “waiting for an opportunity.”
The complaint did not specify the name of the group that Eovacious claimed to be affiliated with.
Eovacious’ court-appointed federal public defender declined to comment. “At this time, we have no comment as it is too premature to assess what is in his best interest,” Jessica Thrall said. Attempts to reach Eovacious through his attorney and pastor were unsuccessful.
A video clip posted to Twitter of Eovacious’ arrest for civil disobedience and possession of a destructive device shows the teenager, his dark hair pulled back into a long ponytail and a white star-studded scarf tied over his mouth and the nose. He stands in front of the hood of a flashing blue patrol car as officers search his pockets.
Eovacious was one of nearly 20 people arrested during two days of protests.
By all accounts, Eovacious is a good student, high school class of 2020, with a part-time job. His manager wrote an endorsement letter for Eovacious’ attorney to read to the judge during a court hearing last week.
The teenager does not present himself as an anarchist, said Pipho.
“In my experience, Vinnie was more of a free spirit, independent thinker type, who not just accepted the status quo, but would reflect on it and challenge it, not in my experience in a harmful way or destructive, but in depth,” Pipho said.
Not too long ago, Eovacious and her parents posed for photos at the Disney and Red Sox games. He and his father camped at Treasure Valley Scout Reserve in Rutland. The teenager ran 5k with a cousin and took part in church youth group activities and outings.
A social media preview of Eovacious shows a gaming enthusiast with an interest in urban downhill mountain biking racing and a penchant for quoting fictional characters from the BioShock and Rainbow 6 Siege video games.
About four years ago, Eovacious uploaded an image of a capital A scribbled in red and surrounded by a capital O as his profile picture on social media. The circle-A is the best-known contemporary symbol of anarchy.
Pipho declined to discuss the allegations made against Eovacious, but stressed that he was never a teenager to be feared.
“Everyone loves him,” Pipho said. “No one thought things were going to go wrong for this kid.”
After his arrest, Eovacious was held at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, RI
US Attorney Andrew Lelling announced the arrest of the “self-proclaimed anarchist” in a press release.
“The right to protest is not the right to hurt police officers and destroy property,” Lelling said. “We will aggressively pursue anyone who pursues violence under the guise of peaceful protest.”
Eovacious faces 15 years in federal prison if convicted.
In a hearing held by videoconference last Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy ordered an unsecured $5,000 bail and house arrest for Eovacious. He handed the teenager over to the care of his father Scott Eovacious.
Eovacious must take prescribed medication and continue mental health treatment at a behavioral health clinic in Worcester, Hennessy said. He prohibited Eovacious from drinking alcohol, owning firearms or weapons, and ordered a random drug analysis, according to court records.
If Eovacious still has a job at Whole Foods after his arrest, he can continue to work there part-time as long as his parents drive him, the judge said.
Eovacious has yet to be arraigned on the charges. It was unclear if his next court date was scheduled.
Pastor Pipho said he was not at all surprised to see Eovacious attending a protest against racial injustice; it is in the spirit of the congregation.
“At Trinity, we reflect within our members what we see across the country,” Pipho said. “We also have other young people who really connect and support peaceful protests on these racial issues and believe that the voices of protesters need to be heard.”