ST. PAUL — The Rochester, Minn., man who investigators said was caught on video pouring a fire accelerant around a Minneapolis pawn shop and then lighting it on fire last May pleaded guilty Thursday, July 22, to a federal charge.
Montez Terriel Lee, 26, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Paul to a single count of arson.
Court documents allege that he “maliciously damaged and destroyed by means of fire and explosive materials the Max It Pawn Shop, located at 2726 East Lake Street” on May 28, 2020. The fire at the pawn shop occurred the same night the Minneapolis Third Precinct building was destroyed by fire in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received three videos from an anonymous source showing the arson of the East Lake Street pawn shop.
In one video, Lee was seen in a mask pouring liquid out from a metal container throughout the pawn store, court documents state. In another video, he stands in front of the burning pawn shop. When asked by the person filming, “What you do, Tez?” He reportedly responds, “F--- this place. We’re gonna burn this b---- down,” court documents state.
Lee had been in custody since June 2020 after a U.S. District Court Judge concluded that "no condition or combination of conditions of bond will reasonably ensure the safety of the community."
In November 2020, his attorneys filed a motion for reconsideration of his detention that was denied in December, less than a month later.
Court records do not list a sentencing date for Lee.