What’s up with ‘Umbrella Man’?

Police obtained search warrant nearly a year ago, but there’s been no arrest

By: - June 2, 2021 7:00 am

“Umbrella Man” smashing windows at the AutoZone in south Minneapolis, after the murder of George Floyd. Via Javier Morillo’s Twitter page.

The internet dubbed him “Umbrella Man.”

About a year ago, a man dressed all in black and carrying an umbrella was pictured on video smashing windows at a south Minneapolis AutoZone store amid demonstrations against police for the murder of George Floyd. 

A righteous online citizenry accused him of inciting looting and violence and sought to determine his identity and out him.  

About two months after the AutoZone incident, a suspect’s name was unmasked by a search warrant, which led to a brief blizzard of news coverage

But nobody has been arrested or charged since then.

That includes the 33-year-old rural Minnesota man who was identified in the July 27 search warrant application seeking his cell phone records. The warrant was granted, but the Reformer is not identifying the man because he has not been charged. 

In the search warrant records, Minneapolis police investigator Erika Christensen said authorities were tipped off about the man’s identity. In addition to the eponymous umbrella, he wore a gas mask and was recorded using a small sledge hammer to break AutoZone windows. He is also believed to have spray-painted “free (expletive) for everyone zone” on the store doors. A video of the Umbrella Man window-smashing was posted on social media and went viral.

AutoZone was set on fire, among the first in a string of arson and looting incidents that spread across the metro area. More than 1,000 Minneapolis buildings were burned or damaged, but criminal charges have been filed in connection with just 11 of the cases, a recent Reformer analysis found.

The man whose cell phone records were sought is said to be a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang and “known associate” of the Aryan Cowboys white supremacist prison gang based in Minnesota and Kentucky. He was photographed with a group wearing Aryan Cowboy leather vests in Stillwater harassing a Muslim woman on June 27 of last year, according to the search warrant. 

The search warrant sought the suspect’s cell phone activity and cell tower “pings” on the day of the AutoZone incident. The man, who has a lengthy criminal history, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Minneapolis Police spokesman John Elder said “It remains an open case and is still being investigated” and could not comment on whether the man listed in the search warrant is a suspect. 

“The investigator has not authorized the release of information on the case as this remains an open investigation,” Elder said via email.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.