2 Men Charged with Throwing Molotov Cocktails at Minnesota Courthouse

June 3, 2020 Updated: June 3, 2020

Two men were charged with arson and possession of Molotov cocktails after they allegedly threw them at a Dakota County government building south of Minneapolis on May 29.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a federal criminal complaint (pdf) against Garrett Patrick Ziegler, 24, and Fornandous Cortez Henderson, 32, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Tuesday.

The pair have a formal detention hearing scheduled for Thursday and will remain in custody until then, a judge ordered.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the Apple Valley Police Department responded to a fire alarm at the Dakota County Western Service Center (DCWSC), which houses state and local agencies and organizations, including Dakota County court facilities, as well as a U.S. passport center, according to the criminal complaint.

Upon arrival, officers found “broken windows, smoke, and flame” in an area of the building where the judges’ chambers and clerks’ offices are located, court documents state.

Items recovered at the scene included those “consistent with those used in Molotov cocktails,” including broken glass jars and liquor bottles, pushpins, and intact glass jars containing “ignitable liquid,” according to the complaint.

Officers also discovered a set of car keys in the grass near the building, which belonged to a Ford Fiesta—later identified as Ziegler’s—parked in a neighboring business’s parking lot.

After police executed a search warrant on the vehicle, they recovered items including “liquor bottles, a store receipt dated May 28, 2020, for three bandannas, partially full and empty boxes of push pins, [and] an empty cardboard box for 12 Ball brand mason jars.”

Officers also recovered “an empty Kingsford brand lighter fluid bottle, isopropyl alcohol bottles, a plastic jar containing a clear unidentified liquid and T-pins, and a store receipt dated May 27, 2020 for nail polish remover” in the vehicle.

Ziegler and Henderson were later found near the DCWSC by officers, who took them into custody.

The criminal complaint alleges that the pair used Molotov cocktails “to start multiple fires inside of the Dakota County Western Service Center (DCWSC).”

According to court documents, the pair claimed they took part in protests earlier in the day over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd.

Henderson claimed that they used the Metro Transit to travel back to Apple Valley “at which time they were confronted by police officers.” However police officials said that Henderson’s account of his whereabouts is not credible, because Metro Transit ceased operations at 4 p.m. on May 28.