After 2023 Barracks Vandalism, Soldier at Fort Cavazos Faces Charges of Arson, Property Damage, Child Porn

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March 29, 2024
A government contractor in front of the Clear Creek access control point takes a step back to ensure the letters are aligned correctly in preparations for the redesignation of the former Fort Hood to Fort Cavazos in Texas.

A Fort Cavazos soldier was charged last week with arson, possession of child pornography and vandalism after allegedly damaging property and setting a fire in the Texas base’s barracks last year.

The soldier, Pvt. 2nd Class Javier Pantoja Tinoco, was arraigned nearly a year after Military.com first reported that two soldiers were suspected of setting a barracks laundry room on fire and defacing barracks walls with spray-painted racial slurs, male genitalia and apparent gang signs.

Pantoja Tinoco’s charge sheet alleges he intentionally damaged at least $1,000 of military property after he drunkenly set fire to washing machines. He was also discovered to “knowingly and wrongfully possess child pornography,” including at least one video of what appeared to be a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct, according to the charges.

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Pantoja Tinoco pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces a court martial by an enlisted panel.

“The Army thoroughly investigated an incident involving a fire in the barracks on April 22, 2023,” 1st Cavalry Division public affairs wrote to Military.com in a statement Friday.

“As a result of that investigation, PV2 Javier Pantoja Tinoco was charged with possession of child pornography, arson, damaging military property, drunk and disorderly conduct, and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” the statement said.

Pantoja Tinoco joined the Army in late 2022 and is part of the Regimental Engineer Squadron of 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

It is not clear whether the other soldier who was allegedly involved was disciplined or not, though they are no longer in the military, according to the 1st Cavalry Division. It declined to comment further on the unnamed soldier, citing privacy concerns.

Military.com reviewed photos of the vandalized barracks, which included the N-word written at least three times on different barracks walls. One photo showed a torched washing machine, with spray-painted male genitalia on the rear wall.

“These people have done harm to their community and made their fellow soldiers feel unsafe; they’re revealing the military has done nothing to weed these people out,” Kris Goldsmith, an Army veteran and CEO of Task Force Butler, a nonprofit focused on combating extremism in the military, told Military.com last year. “The victims are fellow service members and deserve to see these guys spend a few years in [prison], and the Army needs to rehabilitate these guys.”

It’s unclear whether Pantoja Tinoco has faced any unit-level punishment, such as reduction in rank or extra work. His court-martial is slated to begin April 9.

Last month, two Marine lance corporals at Marine Barracks Washington, Hayden Pritchard and Sergio Delgado, were charged with hate crimes related to anti-Semitic and racist slurs they allegedly wrote inside a residence hall at the University of Maryland last year.

In a separate incident last year at North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base, a military family’s home was vandalized with racial slurs, swastikas and profanity.

— Kelsey Baker is a graduate student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and a former active-duty Marine. Reach her on X at @KelsBBaker or bakerkelsey@protonmail.com.

Related: 2 Months After Army Identified Suspects Who Allegedly Painted Racial Slurs on Barracks, No Punishment Yet

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