MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is offering $70,000 in reward money for information that helps identify multiple people suspected of setting fires in the Twin Cities following George Floyd’s death.
The ATF said the reward money is broken into $5,000 for each of the 14 suspects sought, and is in addition to the previous two rewards that the ATF has issued in relation to the recent unrest.
Tucked in next to the infamously-looted Target near the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct building, there is another victim of the lawlessness that enveloped the area: Minnesota Transitions Charter School.
Surveillance footage shows someone walking through with a gas can. Administrators tell WCCO there were 19 attempts to burn the school down — and 19 times the sprinkler system prevented that. But teacher Alexa Misgen says the damage was still done.
“It really hit a lot of the students that they felt like, wow, that was my life in school,” Misgen said.
And this case is just the tip of the iceberg for the Twin Cities, according to Terry Henderson, special agent in charge for the ATF St. Paul division.
“We have investigated more than 150 fire scenes,” Henderson said.
He says two national response teams have been deployed to the area to help with the case load.
“This has certainly been an unprecedented event,” Henderson said.
Much of their time is spent combing through countless videos; some surveillance and others submitted by witnesses. Images show people setting fires at banks, dental offices, stores and schools.
“We’re just so thankful that the public has been willing to share information with us to help us solve these cases,” Henderson said.
The reward money is a hefty sum for the tipster, and a dose of justice for those hurt by the destruction.
“I think as a school, we would agree that holding them responsible is going to be a nice closure, for sure,” Misgen said.
Administrators at the school tell WCCO they’re working on a plan to renovate their current building. In the meantime, they’re prepared to have students attend school at their other campuses around the Twin Cities, or continue e-learning from home.
At least four arrests have been made as of Monday night.
Minnesota lawmakers proposed millions of dollars to help those small businesses rebuild. If passed, about half of the proposed $300-million plan could be distributed in the next two to three weeks to business owners in lower-income neighborhoods that were hardest hit with the protest violence.
Anyone with information is asked to contact ATF. Call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477), email ATFTips@atf.gov or submit information anonymously via www.ReportIt.com or the Report It mobile app. When using Report It, select “ATF – St. Paul Field Division” as the reporting agency. Provide the ATF ID number of the suspect and as much information as you can relating to the whereabouts of the individual of whom you are reporting. Tipsters can also call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477) if internet access is unavailable.
Information can be submitted anonymously, but if a reward is sought, be sure to include contact information into the report before submitting a tip. Information eligible for reward must lead to the successful identification, arrest and conviction of the individual.
Here’s a look at the suspects: