Minneapolis man charged in Stella’s arson previously released on zero bail for sexual assault

In an unrelated Anoka County case, Ferguson is wanted on a warrant related to felony charges of sexual assault.

Tyler Michael Ferguson/Hennepin County Jail

A Minneapolis man is facing felony charges in last week’s arson that damaged a business in the Uptown neighborhood.

The same suspect is also wanted on a warrant in another case involving sexual assault of a minor.

Tyler Michael Ferguson, 22, was charged on Tuesday in Hennepin County with aiding and abetting both second-degree arson and first-degree damage to property in the fires that caused over $82,000 in damage to Stella’s Fish Café on July 6, according to the criminal complaint.

The damage from the incident last week is part of the ongoing chaos caused by agitators who have repeatedly overtaken the area of West Lake Street and Girard Avenue South in Minneapolis. Incidents of arson, looting, burglary and damage to property began several weeks ago following the shooting death of Winston Boogie Smith on June 3 by deputies acting on behalf of a federal fugitive task force.

The complaint against Ferguson states that firefighters were dispatched to the restaurant location on the 1400 block of West Lake Street early July 6 on a suspected arson in the dumpsters behind the business.

The business owner provided surveillance video to police the next morning, which showed two males enter the alley near the dumpsters just after 3 a.m. The first male lit a brown paper bag on fire and placed it on some cardboard on top of the dumpster. The second male, later identified as Ferguson, added carboard to the fire and moved the lit paper bag around, igniting other items in the dumpster.

The business owner provided a second surveillance video to police from July 3 that showed Ferguson taking a Stella’s dumpster and pushing it into an alleyway.

In a statement provided to police by an employee at Stella’s, the employee said he’d approached and spoken to the protesters a couple weeks prior to ask why they were harming local businesses.

The group included Ferguson who bragged to the employee about how he previously burned a dumpster that got so hot that it melted the pavement. Ferguson also told the employee that he wanted to burn down Stella’s, the complaint said.

Police dispatch audio from the July 6 incident also indicated that the building housing Stella’s was broken into, and a fire may have been started on the roof.

The aftermath of a fire started behind Stella’s in Uptown Minneapolis. (Uptown Crime/Facebook)

The business owner told police that the fires caused substantial damage to the HVAC system at the restaurant, including the electrical system and condensers, totaling about $52,000. The surveillance cameras also sustained damage totaling between $7,000-$10,000, and the dumpster area sustained about $20,000 in damage.

Ferguson was booked into Hennepin County Jail on Saturday evening and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the arson-related charges on Wednesday afternoon.

In an unrelated Anoka County case, Ferguson is wanted on a warrant related to felony charges of first- and third-degree sexual assault and threats of violence for an April 2020 incident in Fridley.

Judge Suzanne Brown/Minnesota Judicial Branch

Charges in that case say Ferguson used force and violence in a sexual assault involving multiple acts on a victim who was 16 at the time. Ferguson grabbed the victim, who was known to him, by the throat and threatened to kill her if she told anybody. Following his arrest, Ferguson eventually admitted to police that he had engaged in the acts the victim had described, but stated that the victim wanted it and forced him to do it.

According to court records in that case, Ferguson had remained in jail on a high bail amount following his arrest in April 2020, but was eventually conditionally released on a zero bail amount by Judge Suzanne Brown. Ferguson failed to appear at a hearing that was scheduled for May 20, 2021, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.