Man charged for setting fire to dumpster at Stella's Fish Café in Minneapolis

A 22-year-old man is charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to the dumpster at Stella's Fish Café in Minneapolis' Uptown last week, according to charges filed Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court.

Tyler Michael Ferguson is charged with second-degree arson and first-degree damage to property.

According to the charges, police responded to a suspected arson of the dumpsters at Stella's on July 6. Police watched surveillance footage, which showed Ferguson and another person go into the alley by the dumpsters around 3 a.m. While the other person initially lights a paper bag on fire and sets it on top of the dumpster, Ferguson then adds cardboard to the flame and moves the burning paper bag so other items inside the dumpster catch fire.

According to the owner of Stella's, the July 6 fire caused about $52,000 in damages to the restaurant's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, about $20,000 in damages to the dumpster area and about $7,000 to $10,000 in damages to the camera system.

The restaurant owner also showed officers surveillance video from July 3 showing Ferguson taking one of Stella's dumpsters and pushing it out into an alley way.

Last month, sheriff's deputies as part of a U.S. Marshal Service taskforce shot and killed Winston Smith at an Uptown parking garage. Family members said before the shooting Smith had just ate lunch at Stella's, which is directly across the street from the garage. Since the shooting, there has been unrest in the area. According to the charges, "there have been many fires ignited in this area using dumpsters from local businesses."

The charges also state a restaurant employee talked to officers about a conversation they had with Ferguson several weeks ago in which Ferguson allegedly bragged about how he previously burned a dumpster and said he wanted to burn down Stella's.

Ferguson is in custody at the Hennepin County Jail.