Two Minnesotans living outside the city have been charged with setting the blaze that damaged the Nicollet Avenue Wells Fargo near the 5th Precinct on May 28.
Marc Bell Gonzales, 29, of Wayzata, and Alexander Steven Heil, 24, of Monticello, have been charged with conspiracy to commit arson in federal court for their alleged role in the fire that heavily damaged the bank branch at 31st & Nicollet, according to a United States Attorney’s Office news release.
The fire was set the night of May 28, when the demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer reached their peak in Southwest. As crowds converged on the 5th Precinct, sporadic looting of nearby businesses began and fires engulfed buildings.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the FBI say Gonzales and Heil worked with others to accelerate a fire at the bank. Gonzales is specifically accused of pouring gasoline around the building.
There have now been 15 arrests on arson-related charges connected to the civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd on May 25, according to the ATF. More than 150 fires were set in the metro area in late May, many concentrated along the Lake Street corridor. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal, Minneapolis Fire Department, Minneapolis Police Department and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office have assisted in the arson investigations.
The ATF has offered rewards to tips leading to the arrests of those suspected in arsons related to the unrest. The agency continues to ask those with knowledge about fires set to local businesses to call 1-888-ATF-TIPS or visit ReportIt.com.
The Wells Fargo branch remains closed.