MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Rochester couple wanted for arson and related crimes in connection to the unrest in the Twin Cities last May following the death of George Floyd were arrested this week in Mexico.
Jose Angel Felan, Jr., 34, and Mena Dhaya Yousif, 22, were detained Monday by Mexican authorities for immigration violations, according to Erica H. MacDonald, the U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota. The two made their first court appearance Wednesday in southern California.
“Thanks to the skilled investigative work of the ATF and the tireless apprehension efforts of the U.S. Marshals Service these two defendants, who have been on the run for more than eight months, will be returned to Minnesota to face justice,” MacDonald said.
According to an indictment, Felan set fire on May 28 to three buildings along St. Paul’s University Avenue: the Goodwill store, the 7 Mile sportswear store, and Gordon Parks High School. Felan is charged with three counts of arson.
Yousif is accused of helping Felan to avoid authorities and escape arrest. She faces one count of being an accessory to arson after the fact.
Both Felan and Yousif are in custody pending a detention hearing next week.
Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for several minutes outside a south Minneapolis convenience store. Floyd was in handcuffs and repeatedly told Chauvin he couldn’t breathe.
Bystander video of the fatal arrest sparked protests and riots in the Twin Cities, as well as nationwide reckoning with racism and police brutality. Amid the days of unrest in late May, dozens of buildings were ransacked, looted and burned; some were completely destroyed. The Minnesota National Guard was called in to halt the destruction.
Over the last several months, investigators have tracked down and charged several people for arson, particularly for the burning of the 3rd Precinct Minneapolis police station.
Chauvin, who was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. His trial is scheduled to start on March 8. Three other former Minneapolis officers charged in Floyd’s death are slated to stand trial later this year.