Austin man charged for alleged possession of Molotov cocktail

Published 6:46 pm Friday, May 21, 2021

An Austin man allegedly found in possession of a Molotov cocktail made his first appearance on Tuesday in Mower County District Court.

Ashton Joseph Shrewsberry, 28, has been charged with felony violent felon in possession of an incendiary device.

Ashton Joseph Shrewsberry, 28

According to the court complaint, police were dispatched on a report that a male subject had numerous gasoline cans lined along the street with a fire burning near them at about 2:22 a.m. on May 17 in the 1300 block of Fifth Avenue Northwest. An officer arrived and saw Shrewsberry standing next to a small fire in the street. The fire was dangerously close to the gas cans on the side of the road. Shrewsberry started to run when he saw the squad car, but returned when the officer told him to do so.

The officer observed the gas cans were close to a jar that was on fire and he removed the closest gas cans from the area to prevent combustion of the potential gasoline fumes. He also observed a Molotov cocktail sitting in the street. Shrewsberry said, “It’s not what it looks like,” and claimed that the glass bottle was just a storage container for the gasoline because he had no place else to store it and that the rag sticking out of the bottle was just to keep the gas from spilling.

The officer noted that, in addition to the numerous gasoline cans, Shrewsberry had several glass containers located nearby.

Shrewsberry said he did not know why police were called because he was just having a small fire in the street. He insisted that he was not making Molotov cocktails and he was just trying to “store” the gasoline. The officer observed that Shrewsberry appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

When asked again about the Molotov cocktail, Shrewsberry made comments about burning his house down if he was told to do so and burning his trailers that were parked on the street.

A review of Shrewsberry’s criminal history shows a prior felony drug conviction in the State of Illinois.

Shrewsberry will appear in court again on May 26.