Two Arrested in Connection to Booth Fire at Illinois State Fair

By Benjamin Cox on September 23, 2021 at 8:48am

Keating (left) has been charged with arson and criminal damage to property. Bunt (right) has been charged with arson, according to ISP DCI Zone 4 officials.

A Springfield activist and one time state representative candidate has been arrested in connection to a fire at the Illinois State Fair last month.

Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigation Zone 4 officials announced yesterday the arrest of 19 year old Zakary Bunt of Hot Springs, Arkansas and 33 year old John Keating II of Springfield for arson and criminal damage to property.

According to ISP reports, on August 21st, ISP DCI Zone 4 investigators were requested to investigate an arson that occurred during the late-night hours at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. A fire was set to a vendor booth on the State Fairgrounds which resulted in a total loss to the booth and merchandise contained within. The property loss was estimated at approximately $40,000.

Last Wednesday, a Sangamon County arrest warrant was issued for Bunt for one count of Arson. Bond was set at $250,000. Bunt was arrested by the Cape Girardeau, Missouri Police Department and will be extradited to Sangamon County pending an extradition hearing.

Keating was indicted by a Sangamon County Jury for one count of Arson and one count of Criminal Damage to Property. Bond was set at $50,000, 10 percent to apply. Yesterday, CI Zone 4 Agents arrested Keating and transported him to the Sangamon County Jail. Keating has since posted bond and been released, according to the State Journal Register. Keating has maintained his innocence in Facebook posts since the arrest. A GoFundMe has also been set up to assist Keating to assist in legal defense.

Keating finished third in the 96th district state representative race in 2020 behind Democrat incumbent Sue Scherer and Republican Charlie McGorray. Keating ran as a Green Party candidate. Keating was recently mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant Springfield Ward 5 seat last month.

Keating has visited Jacksonville at various times in the recent past for demonstrations and protests. Keating co-founded the group Education and Action Together last year, which addresses people’s civil rights and interaction with police. According to the State Journal Register, Keating was prominent in a number of rallies at the Capitol following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and as a counter protester at Reopen Illinois rallies.

According to Springfield Leaks, a video captured Keating allegedly arguing with the vendor booth owner Dan Richards. Keating and Richards have had a history of public conflict dating back to August of last year. Richards had previously been cited for aggravated battery and battery against Keating over a verbal dispute outside of the Illinois Commerce Commission.

ISP DCI Zone 4 investigated the incident with assistance from ISP District 9 troopers, ISP Division of Internal Investigations, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, and the Cape Girardeau, Missouri Police Department.