MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A St. Paul man has been charged in connection to the fires set at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct during unrest in the city two weeks ago.
The United States Attorney’s Office has issued a federal criminal complaint against 23-year-old Branden Michael Wolfe. He has been charged with one count of aiding and abetting arson at the Third Precinct.
According to the criminal complaint, on May 28, the Third Precinct was overrun and heavily damaged due to vandalism and arson. Investigators identified multiple separate fires that had been started in the building.
On June 3, St. Paul police officers responded to a home improvement store in St. Paul after receiving a complaint that an individual, later identified as Wolfe, was wearing body armor and a law enforcement duty belt while carrying a baton attempting 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 his arrest, Wolfe was wearing multiple stolen items from the Third Precinct, including body armor, a police-issued duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, baton and a knife. Also, Wolfe’s name was handwritten in duct tape on the back of the body armor.
Law enforcement later recovered additional items belonging to the MPD from Wolfe’s apartment — including a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio and police issued overdose kit.
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 — knowing that it would help keep the fire burning. According to the criminal complaint, Wolfe also identified himself in multiple witness photographs depicting himself in front of the building holding a police baton, with smoke and flames visible in the background.
Wolfe is expected to make his first appearance in court Tuesday at 1 p.m.