As sweeps continue across the country, law enforcement charged three more individuals with bold-faced federal crimes for their violent actions as rioters and looters over the past week of protests.
Here are three cases that speak for the larger effort underway.
A federal criminal complaint was filed against Branden Michael Wolfe on Monday, June 8th. He is accused of aiding and abetting arson at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct.
The allegations in the complaint indicated that on the night of May 28th the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct was heavily damaged due to vandalism and arson. Investigators found that multiple separate fires had been started in the building.
On June 3rd the St. Paul Police Department received a call from a home improvement store with a complaint that someone wearing body armor, a law enforcement duty belt and carrying a baton was trying to get into the store.
Employees at the store stated Wolfe had been a security guard there previously, but had been fired earlier in the day. Wolfe had been talking about his social media posts about stealing items from the Minneapolis PD Third Precinct.
Wolfe was located and arrested by the police. He was wearing multiple stolen items and his name was handwritten on duct tape on the back of the body armor. More items were later recovered from his apartment: a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, a police radio and a police issue overdose kit.
During the law enforcement interview, Wolfe admitted to being in the Third Precinct on the night of the arson and taking property from the building. He identified himself in multiple photos taken by witnesses, depicting him in front of the Third Precinct, wielding a police baton with smoke and flames visible in the background.
He also admitted to pushing a wooden barrel into the fire, knowing it would keep the fire burning. Investigators found charred metal barrel rings at the scene.
Wolfe is charged with one count of aiding and abetting arson. He will make his initial appearance today, June 9th at 1 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In West Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a federal criminal complaint on June 8th against Cyril Laurance Lartigue of Cedar Park, TX, for constructing and possessing a Molotov cocktail during a protest last week in Austin.
Lartigue is charged with one count of possessing an unregistered destructive device.
Video cameras captured him making the device while in a parking lot adjacent to the Austin Municipal Court entrance. While making it, he was interrupted by Austin PD officers heading his direction and ran off, leaving the bomb behind. He returned within minutes to retrieve the device.
Austin cops found him in a portable toilet where he had changed his clothes and he was arrested. Lartigue’s backpack had materials to manufacture an explosive device, including a bottle containing lighter fluid, cloth rags, a butane lighter and the clothes he was previously wearing.
Upon conviction, Lartigue would face up to 10 years in federal prison. He remains in federal custody at this time.
“The constitutional line is clear. Speech and peaceful assembly are protected; violence is not. If you bring a Molotov cocktail onto the streets of Austin, you can expect to go to federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney John F. Bash.
The investigation is being conducted by the ATF, Austin Police Department, Austin Fire Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Keith Henneke and Grant Sparks are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
On Monday in Dallas,TX, Erick Montgomery, age 18, was charged via criminal complaint with theft from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) and possession of stolen firearms.
Montgomery is the third defendant of a criminal trio that is charged with burglary of DFW Gun Range in Dallas, TX. The other two defendants are Demonte Kelly, 18, and Lejael Rudley, 19.
A surveillance camera recorded three men exiting DFW Gun Range around 1:45 a.m. on Sunday, May 31, shortly after the theft of more than 40 firearms.
In a span of only 80 seconds, the trio pried open the side entrance of the facility, grabbed three rifles posted on the wall, and smashed glass cases to snatch several dozen handguns stored inside.
After the ATF released the surveillance video, the Dallas Police Department received a lead in the investigation. The tipster claimed to know the identities of the three men, including Montgomery, who were shown in the surveillance video that aired on a local news channel.
ATF Special Agents were able to track Montgomery to a Dallas apartment where he waived his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with agents. He admitted that he was present the night of the gun range burglary and stole multiple firearms.
The trio risk sentences of 20 years in Federal prison.