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St. Paul man charged in Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct arson

Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, was charged with aiding and abetting arson.
Credit: KARE

ST PAUL, Minn. — A St. Paul man has been federally charged in the destruction of the Minneapolis Police Department's 3rd Precinct building, which occurred on May 28 as riots erupted following the death of George Floyd.

Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, was charged with aiding and abetting arson and is scheduled to make his initial court appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.

According to the criminal complaint, on the night of May 28, the MPD's 3rd Precinct was "overrun and heavily damaged by fire." Investigators found multiple separate fires had been set inside the building.

On June 3, St. Paul police responded to a complaint of a man, later identified as Wolfe, wearing body armor, a law enforcement duty belt and carrying a baton trying to enter a home improvement store in St. Paul. According to the 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 him stealing items from the MPD's 3rd Precinct.

Officers located a vehicle several blocks from the store in which Wolfe was a passenger. Wolfe was seen wearing body armor with his name hand-written on duct tape on the back, a police issue duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, a baton and a knife. Wolfe was then arrested on scene.

RELATED: MPD Third Precinct burns as protests continue following George Floyd's death

Following his arrest, Wolfe waived his Miranda rights and agreed to an interview with law enforcement, where he admitted to being inside the MPD's 3rd Precinct building, stealing property and pushed a wooden barrel into a fire, according to the complaint. Wolfe also identified himself in multiple pictures taken by witnesses at the scene, showing him near the fiery scene.

Officials obtained a search warrant to search Wolfe's apartment, where they found additional items belonging to the MPD, including a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit.

The  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and FBI urge anyone who may have information about suspected arson, use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest, to report it by calling 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.

RELATED: Community helps clean up burned buildings across Minneapolis after riots

RELATED: 'You got to see us angry, now you get to see us peacefully trying to clean up'