A 23-year-old man was arrested and federally charged with helping to set fire to a Minneapolis police precinct amid riots following George Floyd’s death.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct was abandoned by police officers on May 28 as rioters breached the building’s perimeter. After police left, rioters streamed inside, setting fires and damaging equipment.
Branden Michael Wolfe was one of them, federal officials announced this week. According to a criminal complaint, Wolfe was arrested on June 3 near a home improvement store in St. Paul, where he lives, after a caller alerted officials to a person wearing body armor attempting to break into the shop.
Wolfe was a security guard at a Menards store, but was fired after social media posts showed him allegedly stealing items from the police precinct.
Wolfe was caught riding in a vehicle near the store wearing body armor with his name handwritten on duct tape on the back along with a police-issue duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, a baton, and a knife.
He agreed to speak to officers without a lawyer and admitted to being inside the 3rd Precinct. He said he stole property from the building and pushed a wooden barrel into a fire, aware the barrel would burn, making the fire bigger. Investigators found charred barrel rings near where the barrel was seen in a photograph.
Wolfe identified himself as a shirtless individual in several photographs captured by witnesses at the scene, according to the complaint.
Law enforcement officers found items belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department at Wolfe’s apartment, including a riot helmet, a police radio, and a 9mm pistol magazine.
Anyone with information about suspected arson, use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest is being urged to contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or the FBI.
Anyone with information specifically related to the Third Precinct fire or other business fires in the Twin Cities can call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477), email ATFTips@atf.gov or submit information anonymously via ReportIt.com.
Information about people who may have incited or promoted violence of any kind can be submitted to the FBI at FBI.gov/violence or over the phone at 1-800-CALLFBI (800-225-5342).