Three people were charged in connection with a fire at a St. Paul store during rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Samuel Elliott Frey, Bailey Marie Baldus, and McKenzy Dunn, all 19, were charged with conspiracy to commit arson.
On May 28, a fire was started at a health and nutrition store in St. Paul, which forms the Twin Cities with Minneapolis, causing damage to the store. Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) obtained video surveillance of people inside the store that night and, with the help of the public, were able to identify the teenagers.
According to criminal complaints, Frey and Baldus are seen in footage pouring flammable hand sanitizer onto a shelving unit and lighting it on fire, while Dunn is seen standing near the unit holding a bottle of the sanitizer.
All three were described as white in the criminal complaints.
The store is a small business called Great Health and Nutrition. Its owner, who wasn’t fully identified, began recording remotely when he was alerted people had entered his store, he told authorities.
The owner provided the footage to investigators.
In the footage the suspects appear to be concerned with who might see their activity from outside the store. After one of them grabs beverages from a refrigerator and passes them out, Frey breaks two display cases, authorities said.
While inside, the trio also took time to smoke tobacco they said they’d stolen from a tobacco shop nearby.
The suspects were identified with the help of the public. After learning the names of the suspects, agents conducted a search of their social media accounts, and found details in photographs matching the appearance of the suspects in the surveillance footage. Dunn, for instance, sports a large watch in her Facebook header; one of the suspects appeared to be wearing the same watch during the arson.
A fourth person who was with Frey, Baldus, and Dunn confirmed that she was there and gave information on the suspects.
Mostly peaceful protests took place on May 26, the day after George Floyd, a black man, died in policy custody. But between the afternoon of May 27 and the early hours of May 30, “hundreds of individuals carrying on into the night vandalized and looted local businesses and destroyed buildings, vehicles, and other property through arson, smashing doors and windows, hurling objects and other measures,” an ATF agent wrote in one of the complaints (pdf).
Hundreds of businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul were damaged.
The ATF and FBI recently released images of others accused of arson in the Twin Cities in late May into early June, asking members of the public to share tips.
A 23-year-old man was also charged this week in connection with an arson on May 28.
Two others were charged with arson and possession of Molotov cocktails for allegedly setting fire to the Dakota County Western Service Center in Apple Valley, Minnesota, while an Illinois man was charged earlier this month for civil disorder, carrying on a riot, and possession of unregistered destructive devices for allegedly being involved in the mayhem in Minneapolis.