WILLMAR - The Willmar Police Department has posted photos of the four suspects in the two flag-burning incidents and is asking for the community’s assistance in identifying the four individuals.
The images were captured from surveillance video from a security camera. The Department’s Facebook post acknowledges that the picture quality is poor, but that the images may still help with identification.
Anyone with any information is asked to call Det. Kris Kolstad at 320-214-6700 ext. 3214 or the dispatch number of 320-235-2244.
According to information received Monday from Police Chief David Wyffels, there are two confirmed incidents, at Kitchen Fair, along the 300 block of Fifth Street Southwest, and at the Midas Auto station, along the 700 block of Litchfield Avenue Southwest. Both happened in the early morning hours Saturday.
The incidents are believed to be connected and happened within close time proximity. The video footage was recorded just after 1 a.m. Saturday.
The incidents were reported to police Saturday morning as the owners and managers of the businesses discovered the damage.
Jesse Garcia, manager at Midas, discovered the damage around 7:30 a.m. and then called police.
“It was sad to see that someone would do this,” Garcia said Saturday. “It was a total lack of respect for the flag and our country.”
In his news release and in an interview Monday morning with the Tribune, Wyffels stressed that community response and citizen statements received by police accusing individuals from the Somali community are unfounded and “only cause additional speculation, resentment and animosity within the community at large.’’
Wyffels also stressed that while the acts are concerning, there is nothing in either incident that knowingly raises the crime to a level of terrorism, shows that the incident was a bias offense or that this is connected to some larger subversive effort.
Neither act represents any danger to the public, Wyffels said. The charges relating to these crimes include arson and criminal damage to property, both of which are being investigated and pursued.