BREAKING: Prosecutors charge St. Paul man with arson over police station fire

Per Justice.gov:

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced a federal criminal complaint against BRANDEN MICHAEL WOLFE, 23, charging him with aiding and abetting arson at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct. WOLFE will make his initial appearance on June 9, 2020, at 1 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.

According to the allegations in the complaint, on the night of May 28, 2020, the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct was overrun and heavily damaged due to vandalism and arson. Investigators identified multiple separate fires had been started in the building. On June 3, 2020, St. Paul police officers responded to a home improvement store in St. Paul after receiving a complaint that 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.

According to employees, WOLFE had been employed as a security guard at the store but was fired earlier that day after referring to social media posts about stealing items from the Third Precinct. Officers located WOLFE and took him into custody. At the time of the arrest, WOLFE was wearing multiple items stolen from the Third Precinct, including body armor, a police-issue duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, baton, and knife. WOLFE’s name was handwritten in duct tape on the back of the body armor.

Law enforcement later recovered from WOLFE’s apartment additional items belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department, including a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit.

According to the allegations in the complaint, during a law enforcement interview, 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. WOLFE also identified himself in multiple witness photographs depicting WOLFE in front of the Third Precinct holding a police baton, with smoke and flames visible in the background.

In his statement to law enforcement, WOLFE confirmed that he pushed a wooden barrel into the fire, knowing that it would help keep the fire burning. Investigators recovered from the scene charred metal barrel rings.

UPI reports prosecutors in Minnesota have charged a 23-year-old man from St. Paul in connection to an arson attack against a Minneapolis police station during protests demanding justice for the police involved-killing of George Floyd.

U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald on Monday announced Branden Michael Wolfe has been charged with aiding and abetting arson for the May 28 fire that greatly damaged the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct.

Protests erupted in Minnesota before spreading nationwide over Floyd’s death on May 25. Video of the incident shows Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pinning Floyd, a black man, to the ground with a knee to the back of his neck for more than eight minutes.

Days later during protests, the third precinct was set ablaze and vandalized.

Wolfe was arrested Wednesday while wearing numerous items that were stolen from the precinct, including body armor, a police-issued duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, a baton and a knife, prosecutors said, adding, Wolfe’s surname was handwritten on duct tape that was adhered to the back of the body armor.

Police arrested Wolfe after being called to a St. Paul home improvement store over a complaint that a person wearing body armor and a law enforcement duty belt had tried to enter the building.

According to court documents, Wolfe had been a security guard at the store but was fired earlier that day over social media posts he made claiming to have stolen items from the precinct during the May 28 arson attack.

After his arrest, Wolfe told law enforcement officers he entered the precinct the night in question and stole police property, the complaint states, adding he also admitted to pushing a wooden barrel into the fire.

“Wolfe also identified himself in multiple witnesses’ photographs depicting Wolfe in front of the Third Precinct holding a police baton, with smoke and flames visible in the background,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota said. “In his statement to law enforcement, Wolfe confirmed that he pushed a wooden barrel into the fire, knowing that it would help keep the fire burning.”

Metal barrel rings were later recovered from the crime scene, prosecutors said.

A police search of Wolfe’s apartment discovered other items stolen from the precinct, including a riot helmet, a 9mm pistol magazine, a police radio and a police-issued overdose kit.

Wolfe is scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer in St. Paul.