Man Charged in Minn. Fire Linked to Pot Buy Gone Bad

November 9, 2007

Authorities are blaming a fire that caused more than $1 million in damage to two downtown buildings earlier this week on a Virginia, Minn. man who got angry when a women took his money for marijuana but didn’t deliver the drug.

Fire Chief Darrell Knapper said Thursday that a brick building on Chestnut Street had about $900,000 in damage and another nearby brick building took $125,000 in damage. He said neither estimate included the contents of the two-story buildings.

Tyler William Erickson, 20, was arraigned Wednesday on seven counts of arson, burglary and criminal damage to property. He is accused of setting fire to a couch in the woman’s apartment that spread to several downtown buildings and apartments.

According to the criminal complaint, Erickson met the woman on a downtown street Monday and wanted to buy $220 in marijuana from her. Erickson told police he “just snapped” after the woman took his money and left without giving him the drugs.

The complaint says Erickson went to a gas station, purchased charcoal lighter fluid with a $100 bill, went to the woman’s apartment and started her couch cushions on fire.

A 16-year-old boy followed Erickson into the apartment and witnessed him setting the fire and running away, the complaint says. The boy later tackled Erickson at a gas station and held him down until police arrived.

According to the complaint, the cashier at the BP gas station identified Erickson as the man who had purchased the Kingsford charcoal lighter fluid shortly before the fire broke out.

Erickson’s next court appearance was set for Nov. 19.

Knapper said the fire displaced 21 people living in apartments above the businesses that burned. One tenant suffered minor burns trying to put out the fire with an extinguisher. Knapper said several cats and dogs were killed.

Received Id 1127632685 on Nov 08 2007 15:05

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