Savage man gets 6.5 years in prison for arson at Dakota County courthouse

He and another man were charged in connection to the May 29 fire.
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Garrett Ziegler and Fornandous Henderson.

Garrett Ziegler and Fornandous Henderson.

A Savage man has been sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for his role in an arson fire at a Dakota County government building in May. 

Fornandous Cortez Henderson, 33, of Savage, was sentenced to 78 months in prison for aiding and abetting arson on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release. He pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting arson on Aug. 26. 

He and another man, Garrett Patrick Ziegler, 24, of Long Lake, were charged with arson in June in connection to the May 29 fire. 

The news release, citing Henderson's guilty plea and court documents, says he and Ziegler made multiple Molotov cocktails and in the early hours of May 29, they went to the Dakota County Western Service Center in Apple Valley. Henderson and Ziegler broke multiple windows with baseball bats and threw in lit Molotov cocktails, some of which ignited, causing a fire. 

They also started and attempted to start other fires at the building by pouring ignitable liquids and throwing unlit Molotov cocktails in and around the broken windows, and then trying to start the liquids on fire, the release says.

The incident caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. 

The Dakota County Western Service Center houses the Dakota County court facilities and a U.S. Passport center. Henderson admitted he chose it as his target because he'd previously made court appearances there and was angry with law enforcement over the recent death of George Floyd, the release said. 

In addition to serving more than six years in prison, Henderson was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $205,872.53 in restitution. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office did not disclose the status of its case against Ziegler in its news release. 

MPR News says Henderson is the first person to be sentenced in connection to setting fires during the civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25. 

In total, the U.S. Attorney's Office has charged 14 people, including Henderson and Ziegler, with federal arson-related charges in connection to the civil unrest – all but one of the suspects is from Minnesota, the publication notes.

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