Body Found in Minneapolis Pawn Shop That Was Set on Fire During George Floyd Riots


Investigators have found the charred body of a man in the remains of a Minneapolis pawn shop that was set on fire almost two months ago during riots that were sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The body was discovered Monday morning in the rubble of Max It Pawn as investigators from the Minneapolis Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the state fire marshal’s division acted on a tip, the Star Tribune reported.

“The body appears to have suffered thermal injury and we do have somebody charged with setting fire to that place,” police department spokesman John Elder said.

The victim’s identity and cause of death will be released after an autopsy is completed, he said.

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Max It Pawn was one of a number of buildings that were set on fire along Lake Street near the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct station in response to Floyd’s death on May 25 after a police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes during an arrest, according to WCCO-TV.

Do you think this man's death was covered up by the fire?

The kneeling officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, and the other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting.

Last month, 25-year-old Montez Terrill Lee was charged with arson in connection with the May 28 fire at the pawnshop on May 28, The Associated Press reported.

ATF investigators had received video of a masked man, later identified as Lee, pouring liquid from a metal container throughout Max It Pawn. Another video showed him in front of the shop as he said, “We’re going to burn this” place down.

“It is an open investigation and we’re not at liberty to share further information at this time,” the ATF said in a statement to KARE-TV.

“The ATF is continuing to work these arson investigations across the Twin Cities and following up on these leads as they become available,” ATF spokeswoman Ashlee Sherrill added to the Star Tribune.

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Homicide detectives are now involved in the investigation.

If the case is ruled a homicide, it would be Minneapolis’ 36th homicide of 2020 and the second fatality connected to the riots, according to the Star Tribune.

The first fatality occurred after the owner of Cadillac Pawn, John Rieple, shot and killed a man outside of his business. He was arrested and released, but no charges were filed.

Over 500 shops and restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul reported damage in the nights following Floyd’s death, the Star Tribune reported.

The costs of the damage have been estimated to exceed $500 million, making the riots the second-costliest civil disturbance in U.S. history following those in Los Angeles in 1992.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith