September 27, 2020

Police Find Body in Building Burned Down During George Floyd Protests

Acting on an anonymous tip, the authorities in Minneapolis this week discovered the body of a man inside a building that was burned down amid protests over the death of George Floyd, the police said.

The body was found Monday as the authorities searched through debris at the site of a pawnshop at 2726 East Lake Street in Minneapolis — about three miles from the site where a police officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

On May 28, three days after Mr. Floyd’s death, the building was set on fire, according to federal officials. In June, officials charged Montez Terriel Lee with arson after video footage surfaced of Mr. Lee “pouring liquid from a metal container throughout the pawnshop,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota.

The death of the man whose body was found — and whose name the authorities did not release — is being investigated as a homicide. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday that it had no information to release on the cause of death.

John Elder, a police spokesman, said that the dead man’s injuries led the police to believe that his death was linked to Mr. Lee’s setting of the fire.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the office was continuing to investigate whether the discovery of the body would lead to additional charges against Mr. Lee.

A phone message left with a lawyer for Mr. Lee, 25, on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

The Minneapolis Fire Department, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted the Minneapolis Police Department in searching the building where the body was found.

Unrest erupted in cities across the country, including Minneapolis, in the days after Mr. Floyd’s death on May 25, overwhelming local officials and emergency response teams. Fires ravaged parts of the city, notably around East Lake Street, as frustrations brimmed over alongside peaceful protests.

Since June, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been working with the local and state authorities in St. Paul and Minneapolis, examining over 150 fires that have occurred across the Twin Cities, a spokeswoman said.

“A.T.F. and our partners have returned to a number of these fire scenes based on evidence and information that continues to be developed through the investigative process,” she said.