A couple from Rochester, Minn., wanted on federal arson charges connected to last spring’s riots that followed the police killing of George Floyd, was apprehended in Mexico, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minneapolis said Thursday.
Jose Angel Felan Jr., 34, is accused of setting fire to a Goodwill thrift store, 7 Mile Sportswear and Gordon Parks High School along University Avenue in St. Paul on May 28, 2020.
Court documents also say Felan was “captured on video in temporal and physical proximity” to fires set at a Napa Auto Parts store and Speedway gas station nearby, though he is not charged with setting those fires.
An investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives identified Felan after receiving tips from the public, and comparing surveillance video from Goodwill to body camera footage that recorded Felan interacting with Rochester police in March 2020.
Felan’s wife, Mena Dhaya Yousif, 22, is charged with being an accessory after the fact for allegedly helping her husband flee.
The two made their initial appearances before a federal magistrate judge in California on Wednesday. The judge ordered them held pending a Feb. 23 detention hearing. A grand jury indicted the couple in July, but the case was kept largely under seal while the search for them was underway.
A third man, Mohamed Hussein Abdi, is also named in the indictment for allegedly helping Felan set fire to the high school.
Felan’s brother Leeroy is charged separately in Texas with lying to investigators to thwart the manhunt. In June, the U.S. Marshal’s Service posted a $20,000 reward for the couple’s capture.
Felan and Yousif are among more than a dozen people whom federal prosecutors have charged with arson in connection with the riots. Dozens of others are facing state-level felony burglary charges in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties for looting.
Pandemic-related restrictions in the federal court system have led to delays and cancellations of many hearings. So far 10 people have pleaded guilty to arson charges, but only two defendants have been sentenced.
Last week, a federal judge sentenced Garrett Patrick Ziegler, 25, of Long Lake, Minn., to a mandatory minimum of five years in prison for aiding and abetting the arson of the Dakota County Western Service Center in Apple Valley, Minn. His co-defendant, Fornandous Cortez Henderson, 33, who has a previous criminal record, received a 78-month sentence.
Besides the arson cases, federal prosecutors have also charged three alleged members of the Boogaloo Bois, a white supremacist group that hopes to foment another civil war.
Michael Solomon, 30, of New Brighton, Minn., and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22 of Hampstead, N.C., are each charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Prosecutors say the men told an informant posing as a member of Hamas that they wanted to work as mercenaries.
A third alleged Boogaloo member, Ivan Harrison Hunter of Boerne, Texas, is facing a federal riot charge after investigators say he fired a rifle at the 3rd Precinct police station as the building burned.
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