The charred corpse of an as-yet unidentified man was found Monday in the ashes of a pawn shop burned during the recent Minneapolis rioting.
Investigators acting on a tip searched the ruin of Max It Pawn on East Lake Street in southern Minneapolis, just blocks away from the now-closed Third Precinct police station. Police department spokesman John Elder told the Star Tribune “the body appears to have suffered thermal injury and we do have somebody charged with setting fire to that place.”
The identity of the body has not been released as authorities await the result of an autopsy to confirm the cause and manner of death. While the time and details of his death remain unclear, they believe him to have perished in the May 28 fire that destroyed the shop. Montez Terrill Lee, 25, of Rochester, Minnesota, has been federally charged with arson in connection with the fire, the Star Tribune reports:
According to the criminal complaint against Lee, ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] investigators received video from an anonymous source of an arson that occurred at the pawnshop. In the first clip, a masked man, later identified as Lee, is seen pouring liquid from a metal container throughout the pawnshop. A second video shows Lee standing in front of the burning pawnshop saying “[Expletive] this place. We’re gonna burn this [expletive] down.”
“The ATF is continuing to work these arson investigations across the Twin Cities and following up on these leads as they become available,” ATF spokesperson Ashlee Sherrill said. If the death is ruled a homicide, it will cap a 100 percent increase in Minneapolis homicides this year over the last at this time.