Police: Pittsburgh activist accused of trying to set fire to 2 pizza shops turns self in
A Beechview woman who is a frequent figure in public protests in the Pittsburgh area is facing arson charges after police said she attempted to set fire to two restaurants in the city Tuesday night.
Nicole Jo Dawson, 36, turned herself in to Pittsburgh police shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, several hours after officials issued a warrant for her arrest in connection to the Tuesday night incidents, public safety spokesman Chris Togneri said.
Dawson is accused of trying to set fire to Pizza Milano and Cafe Milano.
Both restaurants were open and occupied at the time, and video footage captured Dawson’s attempts at arson, Togneri said.
Pizza Milano is located on Fifth Avenue in the Uptown neighborhood, near PPG Paints Arena. Cafe Milano is on Sixth Street, Downtown, across from the Byham Theater.
Police said that Dawson threw a Molotov cocktail into a fryer filled with oil at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday at Cafe Milano, according to a criminal complaint.
“I want to see this place on fire,” Dawson told a manager at the restaurant, according to the complaint.
The restaurant’s security cameras captured the incident, police said.
At 11:05 p.m., Dawson was at Pizza Milano, where she set a fire in the women’s restroom and to a stack of pizza boxes at the restaurant, according to the complaint.
That incident was also captured on camera, police said.
Dawson is charged with two counts of arson endangering persons, one count of arson endangering property and one count aggravated arson for the incident at Cafe Milano.
Dawson did not return a message seeking comment.
She has long been a community activist in the region and protested new guidelines covering how protests are controlled in 2018.
Staff writer Natasha Lindstrom contributed to this report.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .