MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 22-year-old Minneapolis man faces felony charges of arson and damage to property for allegedly lighting a dumpster on fire in Uptown earlier this month, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to a restaurant.
According to charges filed in Hennepin County, Tyler Michael Ferguson faces second-degree arson and first-degree damage to property in connection to a July 6 incident at Stella’s Fish Cafe, located on the 1400 block of Lake Street West.
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On the morning of the incident, the Minneapolis Fire Department responded to the report of suspect arson involving the restaurant’s dumpsters. The owner then forwarded security footage to Minneapolis police.
The video shows two male suspects — one later identified as Ferguson — entering the alley area by the dumpsters shortly after 3 a.m. The other suspect is seen igniting a brown bag and placing it on to some cardboard boxes that were at the top of the dumpster. He then left the area.
Ferguson then added another cardboard box to the dumpster and moved the cardboard around to ensure the fire continued to build.
The owner of the restaurant gave officers another security video from July 3 showing Ferguson taking a dumpster from the restaurant and pushing it out into the alleyway. Minneapolis police indicated that this had been a common occurrence in the area in recent weeks, the complaint said.
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Ferguson was arrested for arson a few days later given his “distinct characteristics,” the complaint said, and he also had an outstanding felony warrant out of Anoka County. He was charged on Tuesday.
“He Wanted To Burn Down Stella’s”
One of the owner’s employees provided a statement to police, reporting that he had a conversation with Ferguson a couple weeks before the incident, the complaint said.
The employee said he wanted to talk with protesters in the streets and ask them why they were doing what they were doing to the businesses in the area. He then spoke to Ferguson, who allegedly bragged about burning a dumpster before and that he “wanted to burn down Stella’s.”
The owner said the damage estimate for the July 6 fire is well above $70,000 for damage to the restaurant’s HVAC system, dumpster area and camera system. The restaurant also had to close due to damages to the fire and the damages total does not include loss of business revenue.
Ferguson is in custody with a $40,000 bail. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the arson charge alone. The damage to property charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.MORE NEWS: How Can You Tell If You're Truly Burning Out? What Can You Do About It?