Branden Wolfe has been charged in the arson of the 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. Wolfe, 23, has been charged with aiding and abetting arson and will appear in court on June 9. He is the first person to be charged in connection with the fire, the Star Tribune reported.
The 3rd Precinct went up in flames and was vandalized on May 28 amid widespread protests against the killing of George Floyd while in city police custody. Officers arrested Wolfe on June 3. He waived his Miranda rights and admitted that he was present for the fire, that he took property from the building and that he pushed a wooden barrel into the fire, according to the official complaint.
According to Tom Lyden of Fox 9 News, Wolfe was wearing body armor, duty belts, cuffs, baton and a knife stolen from the 3rd Precinct when he was arrested.
Here’s what you need to know:
Wolfe Has Worked as a Private Security Guard at Multiple Locations; He Was Fired After Referencing Theft From the 3rd Precinct
Wolfe’s Facebook profile says he lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is originally from Florida. A quote beneath his profile picture reads, “Silence becomes violence, when we refuse guidance to those who seek it.”
The profile indicates Wolfe has worked as a private security guard at O’Brien and Associates and at Medusa Nightclub. The Star Tribune reported Wolfe was a former security guard at Menards, a home improvement store in Minnesota. Police arrested Wolfe on June 3 after receiving a complaint that he was trying to get into Menards wearing body armor and law enforcement equipment. He had been fired from the store earlier in the day after talking about his social media posts about stealing from the 3rd Precinct, according to the Star Tribune. The posts in question appear to have been removed from Wolfe’s Facebook page.
The Department of Justice press release explains Wolfe’s alleged role in burning down the 3rd Precinct:
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.
Wolfe posted to social media at numerous points throughout that week, claiming to be peacefully protesting, Fox 9’s Lyden noted.
Wolfe Posts Frequently to Social Media; His Posts About Stealing From the 3rd Precinct Have Been Deleted
Wolfe has written numerous Facebook statuses in the last month. In one post he wrote, “Is jealousy a sign of love? ‘Many glamorize jealousy by saying it’s a sign of love. It’s not! It’s a sign of insecurity…’ This is for those who seem to be confused…”
Posts about the 3rd Precinct appear to have been deleted; no posts are visible after May 25.
Wolfe told officials he was one of the men visible in many of the now-viral photos of the 3rd Precinct on fire. In one such photo, he can be seen shirtless and holding a police baton as the station burns behind him.