Crime, Law and Justice

Man charged in fire that gutted Minneapolis police station

The fire-scared-entrance to the Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct building.
The fire-scarred entrance to the Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct building is shown in the wake of protests in the police killing of George Floyd on May 30, 2020.
David Joles | Star Tribune via AP file

Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a St. Paul man who allegedly admitted helping fuel the fire that destroyed a Minneapolis police station with aiding and abetting arson on a night when protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd turned violent.

Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, was due to make his first federal court appearance Tuesday in St. Paul. Online court records didn't list an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Branden Michael Wolfe.
Branden Michael Wolfe.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

According to the criminal complaint, Wolfe was arrested June 3 a few blocks from a Menard's home improvement store in St. Paul where he was fired earlier in the day from his job as a security guard. He was wearing body armor with his name written on duct tape on the back, a police utility belt and carrying a baton as he tried to get into the store, the complaint said.

Employees told investigators that Wolfe was “fired after referring to social media posts about him stealing items” from the station, which burned May 28.

“At the time of the arrest, Wolfe was wearing multiple items stolen from the Third Precinct, including body armor, a police-issue duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, baton, and knife. ... Law enforcement later recovered from Wolfe’s apartment additional items belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department, including a riot helmet, 9 mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit'” according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.

The complaint said Wolfe admitted to taking police property and to pushing a wooden barrel into the fire, knowing that it would help fuel the blaze. It said Wolfe also identified himself in multiple witness photographs of him in front of the station, holding a baton, with smoke and flames visible in the background.