BRAINERD, Minn. -- A 26-year-old Staples man pleaded guilty Thursday, Nov. 19, to arson in connection with his role in burning down the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct in May.
United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald announced the guilty plea of Bryce Michael Williams to one count of conspiracy to commit arson at the Minneapolis Police building in a news release. Williams entered his guilty plea Thursday before Judge Patrick J. Schiltz in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. The conviction comes after the Staples man was initially charged June 16 via criminal complaint and then indicted on Aug. 25.
According to William’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, on the night of May 28, WIlliams went to the Third Precinct where a crowd of hundreds had gathered. At one point, the crowd began shouting, “Burn it down, burn it down.” Soon after, a fence that was designed to keep trespassers out of the Third Precinct building was torn down. Williams, along with other co-conspirators, breached the fence and entered the Third Precinct building, the news release stated.
Surveillance video footage from the Third Precinct showed Williams, wearing a mask, a baseball cap and a hooded sweatshirt, standing near the entrance of the Third Precinct holding a Molotov cocktail while other co-conspirators lit the wick. The Molotov cocktail was taken into the Third Precinct by a co-conspirator and was used to start a fire, the release stated. Williams later threw a box on an existing fire located just outside the Third Precinct entrance.
This case is part of an investigation conducted jointly by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Staples Police Department, the Todd County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division.