DENVER – A 22-year-old man sought in connection to the burning of a Minneapolis Police Department precinct was captured by federal law enforcement officials on Sunday in Breckenridge and has been charged with a federal count= of aiding and abetting arson.
Dylan Shakespeare Robinson, 22, appeared on a video conference for his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court of Colorado on Tuesday afternoon, where a magistrate judge told him of the charges he faces, the possible penalties and said that the court would appoint him a federal public defender.
Robinson was arrested Sunday in Breckenridge by U.S. Marshals and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), according to court records, after he fled Minnesota sometime following May 28, when the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct was vandalized and burned.
The ATF issued a news release on June 9 of people suspected of vandalism or arson during the riots in Minneapolis that took place over two days following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who has since been charged with murder. Photos of who federal agents now believe to be Robinson were among those included. The ATF asked for help in identifying the people pictured.
According to a criminal complaint, agents had seen a man in a white shirt with a black stripe across it lighting a suspected Molotov cocktail during a review of surveillance video from the precinct. They also found video of the same man lighting a fire inside the precinct and throwing another suspected incendiary device at the precinct, according to the complaint.
Investigators also found Snapchat videos and videos on Facebook purportedly posted by Robinson in which he showed his face and was seen and heard talking with others about making Molotov cocktails and setting a fire in the precinct.
A day after the ATF posted asking for help in identifying suspects, a woman emailed the ATF saying she recognized Robinson as one of the people, saying he went to school briefly with her son. She also alleged that Robinson had helped burn down an AutoZone store that was burned the day before the precinct, according to the complaint.
An employee at the school that the woman had told ATF officials Robinson had gone to confirmed he had gone there. And agents found Robinson’s Facebook page, which had been wiped of photos and videos from the past four years, and confirmed the woman’s son was Facebook friends with him.
Further, agents discovered that Robinson was on probation for a conviction on an LSD possession charge and had been in violation of his probation since May 20, when he stopped texting his probation officer, according to the complaint. The probation officer said that Robinson had asked if he could stop going to a drug treatment program and move to Colorado.
One June 12, agents obtained a search warrant to receive information from Robinson’s phone, including cell tower data and data on current GPS pings. According to the complaint, the data showed he was in the vicinity of the MPD Third Precinct on the evening of May 28 and morning of May 29, when the alleged arson occurred.
His phone also pinged to the Denver area that day, and the next day pinged twice that it was heading westbound on I-70 out of Denver. Robinson was arrested on Sunday in Breckenridge.
In court Tuesday, a judge said that Robinson qualified to have a court-appointed attorney. He told the magistrate judge he understood the proceedings, the charge against him and the possible penalties. The judge cut him off as he tried to explain something about the charge against him, telling Robinson that he did not have to say anything else and had the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
If convicted, Robinson could face between 5 and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, the judge said.
Robinson will be back in court Friday for a detention and ID hearing to determine whether he will remain in Colorado to face charge or be extradited back to Minnesota. He will be held in federal custody until then.
Another protester featured by the ATF was Branden Wolfe, of St. Paul, who was charged with aiding and abetting arson by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Minnesota last week after he allegedly stole items from the MPD’s Third Precinct and tried to wear the equipment into a home improvement store.