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3 charged with arson during Minneapolis unrest sparked by rumors

The August incident began when crowds mistook a homicide suspect’s suicide for an officer-involved shooting

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By Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Three men have been indicted on federal arson charges in connection with fires that were set inside the Target corporate headquarters building during unrest that followed rumors of an August police shooting in downtown Minneapolis.

The unrest began after a Black man who was a suspect in a homicide fatally shot himself as police were closing in. In the city still reeling from the May 25 death of George Floyd, rumors of a police shooting circulated and activists and demonstrators went downtown to protest, while authorities worked to quickly dispel the rumors.

Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that Shador Tommie Cortez Jackson, 24, of Richfield, Victor Devon Edwards, 31, of St. Paul, and Leroy Lemonte Perry Williams, 34, of Minneapolis, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit arson.

According to allegations in the indictment and court documents, Jackson, Edwards and Williams went downtown where dozens of others had gathered on Aug. 26. Court documents say Jackson used a construction sign to break a glass door at the Target building, and once inside, he set a fire on a counter in a mailroom while Edwards stood by.

Court documents say Edwards later added liquid accelerant to the fire, and Jackson attempted to light a second fire on top of cardboard boxes using a lighter and bottle of ignitable liquid. Jackson, Edwards, Williams and others then ran outside, but Williams went back in and tried to light a fire inside the building entrance.

Messages left with the men’s attorneys were not immediately returned Thursday. They will be arraigned at a later date.