“The FBI is investigating allegations of criminal activity in the Scottsdale Fashion Square incident in May 2020,” Jill McCabe, a spokeswoman for the FBI Phoenix Field Office, told The Washington Post in an email. “This morning, the FBI executed federal search options in California and Las Vegas, Nevada, in connection with this investigation.”
The warrants that have been submitted in the case have been sealed and the FBI refused to provide further information about the nature of the investigation.
Paul, 23, is a former Disney star who has made a career on YouTube by performing foreign stunts and often breaking tragedy for clicks. His vlogs, also known as video blogs, and online personalities have made Paul a divisive figure, and his recent escapades have repeatedly landed him in hot water.
Both brothers launched their careers on social media on a now-disabled platform called Vine, a precursor to today̵
The younger Paul has also had several brushes with controversy over the past four years.
Last month, Calabasa’s Mayor Paul struck after he threw a large party in his mansion in the middle of a nail in a coronavirus case in Los Angeles County. Paul defended himself and hiccuped criticism of public officials for instead abusing the pandemic.
“No one has an answer, our leadership is failing with us, and not everyone knows what to do,” Paul told Insider last month. “But I personally am not the type of person to sit and not live my life.”
Paul has often been drawn to tragedy, which he has sometimes used as a background for his vlogs. He ventured to Houston after Hurricane Harvey: “We will get them supplies, we will save their lives, and we will freak it all out at once,” he explained at the time.
He also took a short break from daily vlogging to film a documentary after the mass advance at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. In the film, Paul advocated for some measures to reduce gun violence, but some criticized the YouTube star for flaunting firearms in previous videos. While in Parkland, Paul kept a detailed tattoo of a large rifle that fired a bullet on his thigh covered.
His latest attempt to take advantage of a moment of national upheaval led to charges of arson in Arizona and now the FBI is attacking his home near Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Paul ventured to Scottsdale, Ariz., In late May, after nationwide protests against police brutality erupted after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. He ended up filming in the middle of a crowd of alleged looters in Scottsdale Fashion Square during a riot on May 30. When people littered the mall, Paul’s videographer filmed Paul containing what appeared to be a stolen bottle of vodka. Scottsdale police charged Paul with a felony and illegal assembly a few days later.
But Paul defended his presence in the mall, even when activists blew him up for using Internet traffic protests.
“To be perfectly clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was involved in any looting or vandalism,” Paul said in a statement the morning after the riot. “I do not allow violence, looting or breaking the law.”
Wednesday’s FBI attacks on Paul’s home are linked to a federal investigation into alleged crimes that took place in the Scottsdale Mall on May 30, a spokeswoman said.
But false accusations against Paul and members of his film crew were dropped by local police even as federal agents confiscated several firearms from the YouTuber home.
“The Scottsdale Police Department and the Scottsdale City Attorney’s Office are coordinating with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for Arizona and the FBI to ensure that justice is served in criminal acts on Scottsdale Fashion Square on May 30, 2020,” police said in a statement.
Police said it was “in the best interests of society” to dismiss the allegations at the moment, even if they have the opportunity to file a new complaint in the future.
Paul’s lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, told Reuters that YouTuber would cooperate with the federal investigation.
Travis M. Andrews contributed to this story.