St. Paul man charged in connection with Minneapolis police precinct arson

Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, admitted to investigators he was inside the precinct and pushed a barrel into a fire, federal prosecutors said.
Image: Protesters gather around after setting fire to the entrance of a police station as demonstrations continue in Minneapolis
Protesters gather around after setting fire to the entrance of a police station as demonstrations continue in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 28, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

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By Phil Helsel

A Minnesota man is facing federal charges in connection to the fire that was set at a Minneapolis police precinct station during protests over the death of George Floyd, prosecutors said Monday.

Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, has been charged with aiding and abetting arson in connection with fires set at the police department's third precinct on May 28, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota said in a statement.

The precinct "was overrun and heavily damaged due to vandalism and arson," the U.S. attorney's office said, with multiple fires set inside.

Wolfe does not appear to be charged with setting fires, but prosecutors say he admitted to being inside the building that night and pushing a wooden barrel into a fire.

It was not immediately clear if Wolfe had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Wolfe is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in St. Paul on Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Federal prosecutors say that Wolfe had been fired as a security guard at a St. Paul store after referring to social media posts about stealing items from the Minneapolis precinct and that when he was arrested he had police items, including body armor, a duty belt and a baton.

A Minneapolis police riot helmet, a 9mm pistol magazine and a police radio were also found in his apartment, federal prosecutors said in the statement.

The Minneapolis Fire Department said the day after the precinct fire that at least 19 structure fires had been set in the city on May 28.