A 36-year-old Minneapolis man faces charges of damaging property due to bias for allegedly smashing the windows of Somali-owned businesses last week in south Minneapolis.
Harlin St. John was charged by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office in two separate complaints and is expected to appear in court Monday.
St. John faces two counts of first-degree damage to property, two counts of second-degree damage to property because of bias and one count of third-degree damage to property because of bias.
Additional charges are likely in other cases, Freeman's office said.
Police responded to a report early in the morning on Sept. 18 of a man throwing rocks through the windows of businesses on E. Franklin Avenue, according to the complaint. A witness living above one store heard the glass breaking and saw the man throwing rocks.
Police found several businesses with broken, large double-pane windows and estimated damage at more than $8,000.
Authorities reviewed video surveillance tape from the area. The next day, according to the complaint, county security officers on the skyway level of the Hennepin County Government Center spotted St. John, who was wearing the same clothes.
St. John told officers that he broke the windows and would pay for them. According to the complaint, he told police he vandalized the businesses in retaliation for shots allegedly fired at his family members by Somalis, who he said were "selling meth and heroin to Native people." St. John is American Indian.
He was booked into the Hennepin County jail and released 36 hours later because charges had not yet been filed. After the charges were filed Friday, St. John was picked up on a warrant. He was expected to remain in custody until he next appears in court.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson