A 22-year-old Monticello man who investigators said helped propel a fire during the Minneapolis riots in 2020 has been sentenced to more than 2 years in prison.
Alexander S. Heil, Monticello, is shown in a video tossing a traffic cone onto the fire at the Wells Fargo Bank in South Minneapolis. The fire gutted the building at 3030 S. Nicollet Avenue.
Heil pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. Another man, 30-year-old Marc B. Gonazales of Wayzata, is set to be sentenced on June 2, 2021 in the same U.S. District Court for actually starting the fire with gasoline.
Court records show the prosecution believed Heil’s actiions went beyond what was captured on video and in images – the traffic cone – and “presented a host of dangers to others.” Prosecutors charged that Heil was involved in planning the fire, and created a dangerous situations for firefighters and first responders called to the blaze during the riots after George Floyd’s murder blocks away in May of 2020.
Prosecutors pointed to Heil’s extensive record – including arrests in Wright County – that involves fleeing police, domestic violence and multiple drinking offenses.
Defense attorneys said Heil was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, was drunk, and was not responsible for setting the fire.
Heil pleaded guilty to the Federal charges in September of 2020. He will also have three years of supervised release, according to court records.
He’s also facing felony charges for possession of nearly 30 ounces of marijuana, stemming from an arrest in 202 that came just weeks after his guilty plea in the arson case.