Federal authorities announced a $70,000 reward for help identifying suspects wanted in connection with fires set during unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul following the death of George Floyd.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also released surveillance images Monday of 14 suspects and offered $5,000 for information that leads to identification, apprehension and conviction of each suspect (tinyurl.com/ATFsuspects).
“We have methodically worked each of the fire scenes, collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses and reviewing video footage to help us solve these arson cases,” ATF special agent William Henderson of the St. Paul field division said in a statement accompanying the release of the photos.
“We’ve narrowed in on particular individuals who we suspect started one or more fires throughout the Twin Cities. We would appreciate any assistance the public is willing to provide in order to bring these investigations to a successful conclusion.”
The photos showed eight locations that were damaged by arson. Seven were in Minneapolis: A Wells Fargo branch, Office Depot, the Third Precinct police headquarters, Minnesota Transitions Charter School, H & R Block, Chicago Lake Family Dental and Auto Zone. In St. Paul, an Enterprise car rental outlet was on the ATF’s list.
The ATF said tips can be submitted by e-mail at ATFTips@atf.gov, at www.ReportIt.com, or by 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477).
These cases are being investigated by the ATF with the help of law enforcement and fire department agencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul along with the state fire marshal, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota.
Also Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that it has charged Montez T. Lee, 25, with arson in connection with a fire May 28 at the Max It Pawn Shop, 2726 E. Lake St. in Minneapolis.
Lee was arrested Monday in Rochester and will make his first appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
Prosecutors said they obtained a video of a masked man, later identified as Lee, pouring liquid from a metal container throughout the pawnshop.
A second video showed the masked man standing in front of the burning shop threatening to burn it down.
Staff writer Randy Furst contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482