The Slatest

Austin Police Released Boogaloo Boi After He Allegedly Shot Up Burning Minneapolis Precinct

A protester lies on a gate outside the 3rd Police Precinct on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Unidentified protesters on the scene of the 3rd Precinct fire. (Harrison Hunter, who was arrested this week on federal charges of traveling between states to take part in a riot, is not necessarily pictured in this photo.) Kerem Yucel/Getty Images

On Friday, federal officials unsealed details surrounding the arrest of a member of the far-right extremist group known as the “Boogaloo Bois” who allegedly took part in the attack on the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct following the murder of George Floyd. The newly released federal complaint vindicates widely held suspicions that right-wing paramilitary units helped fuel and incite violence in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. But there was another astonishing detail buried in the complaint.

Harrison Hunter, of Boerne, Texas, was arrested this week on federal charges of traveling between states to take part in a riot, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, after he allegedly fired 13 rounds from his AK-47-style assault rifle into the precinct and helped set it on fire.

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What’s perhaps more mind-boggling than the details of the attack is that Austin Police Department officers actually had stopped Hunter in tactical gear, with multiple firearms he claimed weren’t his and weed, five days after the May 28 protest in Minneapolis. Hunter allegedly volunteered that he was a leader of the Boogalo Bois in South Texas and had been present at the precinct burning. But the officers released him and his friends without arresting them.

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The encounter is detailed midway through the affidavit of FBI Special Agent Jason Bujold, who writes:

On June 3, HUNTER was present at a George Floyd protest near Austin, Texas. At approximately 2:00 a.m., Austin Police Department (“APD”) officers observed HUNTER and two other men wearing tactical gear and carrying rifles. After the three men entered a pick-up truck and drove off, officers watched the vehicle commit numerous traffic violations. During the ensuing traffic stop, officers observed a baggie of suspected marijuana in plain view. HUNTER—the front seat passenger—claimed ownership of the marijuana. Officers saw that HUNTER had six loaded magazines for an AK-47 style assault rifle affixed to his tactical vest while the two other men had AR-15 magazines affixed to their vests. Officers found an AK-47 style rifle and two AR-15 rifles on the rear seat of the vehicle plus one pistol in plain view next to the driver’s seat and another pistol in the center console. …

HUNTER denied owning any of the weapons found in the vehicle but volunteered to APD officers that he was the leader of the Boogaloo Bois in South Texas and that he was present in Minneapolis when the Third Precinct was set on fire. After the marijuana, weapons, and ammunition were seized by APD, HUNTER and the two other men were released from the scene.

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According to the FBI, a confiscated magazine had a distinctive floral pattern that matched one that appeared in social media posts Hunter had put online. Other evidence cited in the affidavit includes: incriminating social media posts and messages from around the time of the precinct attack between Hunter and a fellow Boogaloo Boi who has been charged in the murders of two law enforcement agents; photos of a man who dressed in a mask that looks like one worn by Hunter taken at the scene of the precinct attack; information from a paid confidential informant who says Hunter confessed to shooting the precinct and setting it on fire; social media messages from Hunter saying he took part in the burning of the precinct; and information from a cooperating defendant who is charged with a federal crime and seeking a reduced sentence and who identified Hunter as the shooter.

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About four hours after the fellow Boogaloo Boi in question, Steven Carrillo, allegedly shot and killed a contract Federal Protective Service officer in Oakland and about two hours after the precinct attack, Hunter and Carrillo exchanged the following messages:

1 :37:09AM PDT: Hunter to Carrillo: Go go go

1 :37:23AM PDT: Carrillo to Hunter: ?

1:37:28AM PDT: Hunter to Carrillo: Boog

l :37:35AM PDT: Carrillo to Hunter: Did

l:37:42AM PDT: Hunter to Carrillo: Luv

l :37:44AM PDT: Carrillo to Hunter: Currently in hide mode

1:37:53AM PDT: Hunter to Carrillo: Go for police buildings

1:38:01AM PDT: Carrillo to Hunter: I did better 101

l :38:20AM PDT: Hunter to Carrillo: Hold

l :38:32AM PDT: Carrillo to Hunter: [“ok” hand emoji]

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Several days later, Hunter would be stopped by Austin police with his cache of weapons and marijuana and then released, and a day after that he posted on Facebook “we need to riot.” (The Boogaloo Bois cited in the affidavit as having committed violence and murder, it should be noted, coordinated extensively on Facebook.)

In September, following the arrest of another fellow Boogaloo Boi called Benjamin Ryan Teeter, who was charged with allegedly attempting to provide illegal firearm suppressors to people he believed to be members of Hamas, Hunter is alleged to have told the confidential informant he would “go down shooting” if he was ever arrested. (He was arrested this week without shooting.)

The whole episode raises the question: What would the Austin Police Department, or any police department, have done if they had stopped a car with three Black men in it carrying marijuana and multiple semi-automatic weapons who confessed to being at the scene of a burning police precinct? Perhaps one need only look to the case of two Black Lives Matter protesters in New York who were stopped with a lighter, a tank of gasoline, and a bottle stuffed with toilet paper after a nearby already damaged and empty police vehicle was set on fire. The pair, who are both people of color, were arrested and have since been charged with crimes that carry a life sentence. Again, Hunter and his friends were let go by the Austin Police Department.

Slate contacted the Austin Police Department to ask why Hunter was released, who the arresting officers were, and whether any investigation or disciplinary action is being taken. As of publication time we had not heard back, but we will update this article if we receive a response.

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