Branden Wolfe did not do much to hide the fact that he'd participated in the riot that culminated in the burning and looting of the Third Police Precinct station in south Minneapolis.
According to charges filed last week, Wolfe, 23, bragged on social media that he'd "stolen items" from the cop shop, which officers had abandoned after nights of intense clashes with protesters. On the night of June 3, Wolfe allegedly showed up wearing some of those items (body armor and a police belt) and wielding another (a police baton) at the Menards on University Avenue in St. Paul, where he'd worked as a security guard until he was fired that day.
St. Paul cops responded to a 911 call about Wolfe trying to get into the Menards like that, and tracked him down in a nearby vehicle. Asked about the precinct, Wolfe said he was "absolutely" interested in talking to police about his experience on the "front-lines" of the protest.
Later, Wolfe identified himself in multiple photographs from the night of the burning; in one, he's seen standing near a barrel, which he told investigators he'd pushed into the blaze to "help keep the fire burning." That's enough for Wolfe to face a single count of aiding and abetting an arson; he's due in federal court at 1 p.m. today for a first appearance in that case.
The Hennepin County complaint charging Wolfe with two counts of felony second-degree burglary (a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine) is a good deal more colorful.
According to those charges, Wolfe told police he'd been inside the building twice in two days -- May 28, the night it burned, and May 29 -- and looted it both times. Wolfe told cops he had, at first, stopped people from throwing bricks through windows, but also confessed "he and others lifted a large bike rack and tried to slam it in a window."
At some point, Wolfe said, he thought "fuck it, I am going back into the building," according to the complaint, for the explicit reason that "he was looking for a collapsible baton because he thinks they are cool and wanted one."
In fact he found two, charges say. Somehow, he lost both in the next 24 hours.
So, around 11 p.m. the next night, he returned to the precinct and took a third baton, but also got "greedy," acquiring quite a bit "more stuff."
The complaint states the following items were found at Wolfe's apartment:
Wolfe's father told the Star Tribune his son had been splitting time between the Twin Cities, where he and a local woman have a child together, and Florida, where he was raised. Robert Wolfe, who lives in Georgia, said his son has "grandiose ideas" and "no common sense."
He added: "I'm still proud of him, whether he burned down the police station or not. He didn't hurt nobody, did he?"