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Charges: Man set fire to dumpster at Stella's, causing about $70K in damages

He's accused of starting the fire during the early hours of July 6.
stella's fish cafe uptown

A Minneapolis man has been charged with arson, accused of setting a dumpster on fire outside of Stella's Fish Cafe in Uptown, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. 

Tyler Michael Ferguson, 22, of Minneapolis, is charged with second-degree arson and first-degree property damage in connection to a July 6 fire in a dumpster at Stella's.

According to the criminal complaint, security footage shows two men going into the alley area by Stella's dumpsters around 3:04 a.m. on July 6. One man, later identified as Ferguson, was wearing a bulletproof vest. 

The unidentified man ignited a brown paper bag he was carrying and put it on cardboard that was on top of the dumpsters and left, charges say.

Then Ferguson added a cardboard box on top of the burning bag and watched the box light on fire. He then "moves the cardboard around to ensure the fire catches on," the complaint says, before taking the flaming paper bag and placing it to the rear of the dumpster, where it ignites other items in the dumpster. 

The fire did "substantial damage" to Stella's HVAC system, forcing Stella's to be closed since the fire, the complaint says. Stella's estimates the fire caused about $52,000 worth of damages to the HVAC systems, about $20,000 in damage to the dumpster area and $7,000-$10,000 to the security camera system.

On July 3, Ferguson was also captured on security video taking a dumpster from Stella's and pushing it into an alley charges state.

"Officers indicated this has been common in the recent weeks, as there have been many fires ignited in this area using dumpsters from local businesses," the complaint says. 

Protesters have been gathering near Stella's since early June, when law enforcement killed Winston Smith at a nearby parking ramp while trying to arrest him. Smith had gone to Stella's for a lunch date prior to the shooting. 

Related: Memorial garden near Winston Smith shooting site is removed

A Stella's employee told police about a conversation he had with Ferguson and other protesters a couple of weeks before the incident in which Ferguson bragged about how he'd previously burned a dumpster that got so hot it burned the pavement. He also said he wanted to burn down Stella's. 

Police arrested Ferguson on July 9 in connection to the arson and an outstanding felony warrant out of Anoka County. The charges did not state what the warrant was for. 

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