Rock thrower charged with targeting Somali businesses

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Minneapolis man was charged with five counts of damage to property and bias crimes for smashing windows of Somali-owned businesses, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

Harlin St John, 36, was charged in two separate complaints with two counts of first-degree damage to property, two counts of second-degree damage to property because of bias and one count of third-degree damage to property because of bias. He is expected to make his first court appearance Monday.

Other cases have been submitted to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and additional charges are likely.

According to the criminal complaint, about 4 a.m. Sept. 18, police were called to East Franklin Avenue and 24th Avenue South because a white man was throwing rocks through business windows. Police found several businesses with broken large double pane windows.

A witness who lived above one of the stores heard glass breaking and saw a man throwing rocks at the various businesses. Police reviewed surveillance videos showing the rock thrower and the following day, Hennepin County Security officers on the Public Service Level of the Hennepin County Government Center saw St John and he matched the description of the suspect, down to wearing the same clothes, the complaint states.

At one point, he told officers that he broke the windows and he would pay for them. Later, he told investigators he did it in retaliation because someone shot at his family members and he believed it was Somalis and that he hates “the Somalis,” according to the complaint.

The damage he caused the businesses is estimated to be more than $8,000, the complaint states.

Criminal complaint (PDF)

Criminal complaint (PDF)