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ST. PAUL, Minn. – A federal charge has been filed against a St. Paul man for the burning down of the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis.
United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald says Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, is accused of aiding and abetting arson. He is scheduled to make his initial appears in U.S. District Court Tuesday.
The Third Precinct was overrun during protests on May 28 and heavily damaged due to vandalism and arson, with investigators identifying multiple fires being started in the building.
On June 3, St. Paul police officers were called to a home improvement store in St. Paul about an individual, later identified as Wolfe, wearing body armor and a law enforcement duty belt and carrying a baton was trying to get into the store. Store employees said WOLFE had been working as a security guard at the store but was fired earlier that day over social media posts about stealing items from the Third Precinct.
Police arrested Wolfe and say they found him wearing multiple items stolen from the Third Precinct, including body armor, a police-issue duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, baton, and knife. Officers say Wolfe’s name was handwritten in duct tape on the back of the body armor. Law enforcement says it recovered items belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department, including a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit, from Wolfe’s apartment.
According to the criminal complaint, Wolfe admitted to police that he was inside the Third Precinct the night of the arson, took property from the building, and pushed a wooden barrel into the fire. Investigators say Wolfe also identified himself in multiple witness photographs capturing him in front of the Third Precinct holding a police baton, with smoke and flames visible in the background. Wolfe reportedly admitted to knowing that pushing the wooden barrel into the fire would keep the flames burning.
The ATF and FBI urge the public to report suspected arson, use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest. 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. In addition to fires, the FBI is looking for people who may have incited or promoted violence of any kind. Anyone with digital material or tips can call 1-800-CALLFBI (800-225-5342) or submit images or videos at FBI.gov/violence.