The video of a mysterious man smashing up windows at a Lake Street AutoZone during George Floyd protests went massively viral, and led to much speculation about the identity and motivations of the “Umbrella Man.”
The most popular notion asserted that the guy reducing glass to shards for no clear reason was a cop, and later online sleuths zeroed in on a single St. Paul Police Department officer. That department later worked to debunk this theory by giving the SPPD cop in question a surveillance video alibi.
The suspicion of an outside agitator, come to make protesters look bad — or incite a more destructive mood — might still turn out to be correct. A search warrant filed this week indicates the prime suspect for Umbrella Man is a Hells Angels biker, and associated with the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood guys who prowled downtown Stillwater late last month.
The Star Tribune reports on the affidavit of a Minneapolis Police Department arson investigator, which says the incineration of that AutoZone was “the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” adding the investigator “believes this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”
The Strib didn’t identify the subject of in the warrant, citing that he has yet to be charged with a crime.
Umbrella Man, who had also tagged the building with “free shit for everyone zone” before bashing its windows with a sledgehammer, threatened one protester and stormed off abruptly after he was confronted. The masked man did his damage on May 27, the second night of protests following Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis cops, and the first of heavy damage to the neighborhood.
Later that night, Calvin Horton was shot and killed, allegedly by John Rieple, the owner of a Lake Street pawn shop, who was arrested but has not been charged. Only last week, another body was found at another pawn shop burned during the riots.
The investigator spent “innumerable hours” watching social media and streaming video feeds trying to track Umbrella Man. Last week, a tip was emailed to the department about the man, 32. He’s a member of the Hells Angels gang, the emailer wrote, and was looking to “sow discord and racial unrest.”