Police have arrested a 23-year-old Branden Michael Wolfe and charged him with aiding and abetting arson at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.
The building was damaged on May 28th during protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd.
Wolfe was arrested Wednesday, June 3rd, and he’s set to make his first appearance in court Tuesday, June 9th. According to a criminal complaint, in an interview with law enforcement, Wolfe admitted to being inside the Third Precinct the night of the fire, taking property from the building and pushing a wooden barrel into the fire because he knew “that it would help keep the fire burning” (investigators reportedly found charred metal barrel rings at the scene).
During the interview, Wolfe reportedly also identified himself in various witness photographs, including those in which he can be seen “in front of the Third Precinct holding a police baton with smoke and flames visible in the background.”
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wolfe was arrested at a Menards home improvement store where he’d previously worked as a security guard. He’d been fired earlier that day, however, after referring to social media posts about stealing items from the Third Precinct.
When Wolfe was arrested, he was reportedly “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.” Additionally, at Wolfe’s apartment, authorities found “a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio and police issue overdose kit.”
Wolfe was previously convicted of a petty misdemeanor trespassing charge and interfering with a 911 call. The 911 call case also initially included charges of domestic assault, property damage, trespassing and disorderly conduct, although those were all dismissed. Wolfe is still on probation for the 911 call until September 2021.
The Star Tribune briefly spoke with Wolfe’s father, Robert Wolfe, who lives in Macon, Georgia. The elder Wolfe said his son was mostly raised by his mother, and that he knew little about his son’s past legal troubles or political leanings. “He has grandiose ideas, a lot of them… and zero common sense,” Robert said. “I’m still proud of him, whether he burned down the police station or not. He didn’t hurt nobody, did he?”