Minnesota Man Charged With Stoking Fire At Minneapolis’ Third Police Precinct During Riots

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A Minnesota man who helped stoke the fire that engulfed the Third Precinct in Minneapolis during riots following George Floyd’s death has been charged, the Justice Department announced.

Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, from St. Paul was charged with aiding and abetting arson at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct May 28, and had taken several items from the building including a 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and a riot helmet, according to the Justice Department

Protesters walk past burning debris outside the Third Police Precinct on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during a protest over the death of George Floyd. (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Justice Department announced the federal complaint against Wolfe Monday following investigations of the multiple fires that had been started in the building. (RELATED: Arson Experts Arrive In Minnesota To Investigate Fires Set During Riots)

St. Paul police found Wolfe after the home improvement store he worked at as a security guard complained to police that someone was wearing body armor and a law enforcement duty belt while carrying a baton and was trying to get into the store. Officials determined the individual was Wolfe, who had been fired earlier that day after posting on social media about stealing items from the Third Precinct.

Protesters cheer as the Third Police Precinct burns behind them on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Wolfe was wearing items he had stolen from the precinct like body armor, a police-issue duty belt, a baton and knife at the time that police took him into custody. Police also found additional items like a police radio and 9mm pistol magazine at Wolfe’s apartment that had been taken from the building.

During an interview with officials, Wolfe admitted to being inside the Third Precinct the night of the arson, to taking property from the building, and to pushing a wooden barrel into the fire knowing that it would stoke the fire. He also identified himself in multiple pictures taken at the scene holding a police baton. 

Wolfe is expected to make an initial appearance in court June 9.