MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s one of the largest investigations in the history of the St. Paul Police Department — solving the crimes that happened during the unrest following George Floyd’s death.
There were tens of millions of dollars worth of damage to more than 300 businesses in St. Paul. Last month, we introduced us to a special police task force trying to track down the people responsible.
WCCO’s Erin Hassanzadeh shows us the progress investigators are making.
In early August we brought you inside the command center of sorts where nine people spent the summer trying to figure out who destroyed and looted St. Paul businesses in late May.
At that time, Commander Axel Henry and his team had charged roughly a dozen people. Now, about 60 have been charged and 40 more are in the pipeline.
“If you’re a victim in the city, the police department is here to stand up for you defend you and to advocate for you,” said St. Paul Police Department Commander Axel Henry.
Henry leads the task force. This team is still at work using social media often — tweeting out pictures looking for suspects and sometimes unexpected people come forward.
“We’ve even had people, thanks to the public’s help, that have seen their photographs in the picture or even seen in some cases their photograph in the background of a photograph and called in and acknowledged and said, hey that’s me. I took some candy bars and some other stuff,” said Henry.
When that happens, most times, people are let off without charges, especially for minor offenses. Four cases have been diverted, meaning if the person doesn’t get into trouble for a year, it falls off their record.
“There’s that old saying that people got mad when you caught the dolphins in the tuna nets and we’re not looking to catch everything, we’re throwing most of the small fish back,” said Henry.
Many that they are catching are local. Contrary to some initial reports of vandals and burglars being from “out of town.”
Of the dozens charged none have had their day in court yet.
“No one is sitting in jail waiting to go to court based on one of these cases,” said Henry.
Henry admits while effective, the team got a late start and that hurt them.
“We were kind of 30 days behind the curve for some businesses. Their video had already been deleted,” said Henry.
But the successes have made Henry realize people are willing to work together to resolve and rebuild.
“Even when something this bad hits our city that there’s a way to kind of crawl out of it,” said Henry.
Police released images of two more suspects Thursday, pictured below with their reference numbers.
The task force will wind down their work at the end of October but will continue to work these cases past that point if necessary. But they are still looking for your help identifying suspects.
The phone number for the public to call if they can identify someone is 651-266-5900. They can also email SPPD-CUITF@ci.stpaul.mn.us. Video evidence can also be submitted to either.
People can remain anonymous when submitting tips and evidence.