A Rochester man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the May 2020 arson of a pawn shop that led to the death of a man. According to court documents, on May 28, 2020, in the riots that followed the death of George Floyd, Montez Terriel Lee, along with other unnamed individuals, broke into the Max It Pawn Shop on East Lake Street in Minneapolis.
Surveillance videos reviewed by investigators showed Lee pouring some kind of fire accelerant around the shop and lighting it on fire, the District of Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. Additional video footage showed Lee shouting, “[expletive] this place. We’re gonna burn this [expletive] down.”
On July 20, 2020, authorities found the body of a man inside the pawn shop, whose death was officially attributed to “probable inhalation of products of combustion and thermal injury (building fire).”
Lee has been convicted 15 prior times over the last decade for misdemeanors as well as a felony. The prior convictions included burglary, domestic assault, theft, and driving while under the influence.
According to the Minnesota court records, Lee has failed to appear in court for many of his past charges and as of January 15, his fines for nearly all of his prior convictions remain unpaid. Lee currently owes over $3,000 in fines to the state of Minnesota.
The sentencing for most of his convictions was probation and a few days of jail time, with two exceptions: for the felony he served 60 days in jail, and for his 2013 burglary he served one year.
Lee was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright to 10 years in prison for arson, but has not been charged regarding the death of the man found in the pawn shop.
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Hayley Feland is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].