A man who works as a private security guard was the first person arrested in the arson of a Minneapolis police precinct during last month’s riot in the wake of the George Floyd murder at the hands of police.
Branden Wolfe, 23, was said to be wearing body armor, duty belts, handcuffs, a baton and a knife stolen from the 3rd Precinct when he was arrested on June 3.
He had been fired from his job at Menards, a home improvement store, after he admitted on Facebook he stole items from the precinct. The posts appeared to have been deleted.
He was arrested later that day after returning to the store wearing the cop gear, even though the store had banned him from returning.
Investigators say he admitted to pushing a wooden barrel into the fire. They say he also admitted to stealing the items. Police later searched his home and found a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit.
Wolfe, originally from the Florida Panhandle, has previous convictions and was on probation at the time of his arrest, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Wolfe has been convicted of a petty-misdemeanor trespass charge and interfering with a 911 call, which is a gross misdemeanor. On the 911 case, charges of domestic assault, property damage, trespass and disorderly conduct were dismissed. He is on probation in that case until September 2021.
Wolfe’s father, Robert Wolfe of Macon, Ga., said he knew nothing of his son’s legal troubles or his political leanings. He said his son was raised by his mother and home-schooled in a suburb of Pensacola, Fla.
“He has grandiose ideas, a lot of them … and zero common sense,” Robert Wolfe said.
As for the alleged arson, he said, “I’m still proud of him, whether he burned down the police station or not. He didn’t hurt nobody, did he?”
A press release from the United States Department of Justice states the following:
According to the allegations in the complaint, on the night of May 28, 2020, the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct was overrun and heavily damaged due to vandalism and arson. Investigators identified multiple separate fires had been started in the building. On June 3, 2020, St. Paul police officers responded to a home improvement store in St. Paul after receiving a complaint that an individual, later identified as WOLFE, wearing body armor and a law enforcement duty belt and carrying a baton was trying to get into the store. According to employees, WOLFE had been employed as a security guard at the store but was fired earlier that day after referring to social media posts about stealing items from the Third Precinct. Officers located WOLFE and took him into custody. 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. WOLFE’s name was handwritten in duct tape on the back of the body armor. Law enforcement later recovered from WOLFE’s apartment additional items belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department, including a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit.
According to the allegations in the complaint, during a law enforcement interview, WOLFE admitted to being inside the Third Precinct the night of the arson, to taking property from the building, and to pushing a wooden barrel into the fire. WOLFE also identified himself in multiple witness photographs depicting WOLFE in front of the Third Precinct holding a police baton, with smoke and flames visible in the background. In his statement to law enforcement, WOLFE confirmed that he pushed a wooden barrel into the fire, knowing that it would help keep the fire burning. Investigators recovered from the scene charred metal barrel rings.
Investigators also say Wolfe is the man in the photos taken the night of the riot.
We imagine this is the first of more arrests to come as you can see in the story and videos in the link below that many people were inside the precinct creating chaos that night.