The man has a criminal history that includes convictions for domestic violence and assault, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which also reported that the man was among a group of suspected white supremacists who confronted a Muslim woman in June in Stillwater.
A search warrant affidavit was filed in Hennepin County District Court on Monday for cellphone records that would establish the suspect’s whereabouts May 27, when the incident happened at the AutoZone on East Lake Street.
The suspect has remained in the shadows ever since.
Investigators with the Minneapolis police spent “innumerable hours” poring over videos of the incident on social media but didn’t learn who the man was until last week after someone emailed a tip. From there, detectives used photographs and a driver’s license to positively identify him, according to reports.
An arson investigator with the Minneapolis police wrote in the affidavit that the man’s actions on May 27 “created an atmosphere of hostility and tension” that helped inflame what had been relatively peaceful protests up to that point. The business was burned to the ground later the same day along with the city’s 3rd Precinct building.
“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Erika Christensen wrote in the search warrant.
On the day of the AutoZone incident, the unidentified person walked up casually in all black, wearing a gas mask, gloves and tactical boots and carrying an open umbrella, as he smashed at least four windows of the business with a hammer. Monday’s warrant revealed the man also spray-painted a message on the doors of the business that encouraged looting.
Other protesters on the scene seemed to know immediately the man was not among them and began recording his actions on their cellphone cameras.
The videos went viral on social media with the hashtag #UmbrellaMan, and conspiracy theories emerged that the man was an undercover police officer acting as an agent provocateur.
At the time, the St. Paul Police Department was forced to issue several public denials after one of its officers had been misidentified by internet sleuths as being the Umbrella Man.
The term “Umbrella Man” also refers to a figure who was in Dealey Plaza on the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Louie Steven Witt was identified by the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 as the man who opened and raised an umbrella as shots rang out on Kennedy’s limousine on Nov. 22, 1963.
The umbrella man came under some suspicion after the Zapruder film revealed he was one of the people standing closest to the curb toward the president’s motorcade, carrying an umbrella on a sunny fall day. Conspiracy theorists of the time speculated the umbrella may have been a signal to more than one shooter.