Brainerd man faces felony arson charges in vehicle fire
WALKER--A 20-year-old Brainerd man is accused of intentionally setting a vehicle on fire Sunday in Pillager. Eric Gregory Hanson was charged Tuesday in Cass County District Court with two felony counts of third-degree arson, for intentionally des...
WALKER-A 20-year-old Brainerd man is accused of intentionally setting a vehicle on fire Sunday in Pillager.
Eric Gregory Hanson was charged Tuesday in Cass County District Court with two felony counts of third-degree arson, for intentionally destroying property valued between $300 to $999 by using fire or explosives. Hanson could face up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
The vehicle fire was reported at 4:49 p.m. Sunday at Swede's Repair, 4281 State Highway 210 Southwest, near Pillager. The Cass County Sheriff's Office and Pillager Fire Department responded to the scene.
According to the probable cause court document filed against Hanson, a Cass County deputy arrived as the fire department finished extinguishing the vehicle. The deputy observed a vehicle parked along the driveway that appeared to be severely damaged by fire. Property owners, Kristy and Ronnie Arneson, witnessed a vehicle being started on fire. The deputy learned Hanson, who was known to the Arnesons, brought the vehicle to the property to be fixed and left it at the property two years prior to this incident, the complaint stated. Ronnie Arneson determined the engine of the vehicle was bad and advised Hanson of that fact. Hanson left the vehicle there and came back from time to time and removed parts from it. Two weeks ago, Hanson came to the property indicating he wanted to take the vehicle from the property. At that time, Ronnie Arneson advised him he would need to pay $100 in storage fees for having the vehicle on his property for the last two years, the complaint stated.
Arneson said Hanson became angry and left the property. Kristy Arneson advised the deputy earlier that day she had been test driving a vehicle and observed Hanson in a blue Crown Victoria in the turn lane just across the road from the property. When she returned to the property a few moments later she observed Hanson pouring gasoline out of a red can under the hood of the disabled vehicle, across the dash and in the back seat of the vehicle, the complaint stated. She indicated Hanson smiled and waved at her when he saw her. He then threw the gas can into the passenger seat area of the car and got back into the blue Crown Victoria. She stated he drove farther up the driveway and then turned around so he was facing the road again. At that time, she went to find her husband in the garage and tell him what she had seen.
Ronnie Arneson stated prior to the incident he was working in his shop when his wife came running up and told him she just observed Hanson pour gasoline on the vehicle. Ronnie Arneson stated he was rounding the corner of his shop when he observed Hanson running from the disabled vehicle to the Crown Victoria. As he was doing so the disabled vehicle burst into flames. Hanson then jumped into the Crown Victoria and drove toward Ronnie Arneson causing him to have to jump out of the way to avoid being hit, the complaint stated. Hanson then exited the property and left. Arneson was able to get the license plate number of the Crown Victoria.
An alert went out to area law enforcement agencies and Hanson was ultimately located and arrested in Brainerd.
The complaint stated when the Cass County deputy was transporting Hanson, he made several comments. Hanson stated he did not burn anything and stated the car wasn't his.
The vehicle was a total loss as a result of the fire.