Man charged with arson of downtown St. Paul Lunds & Byerlys

A St. Paul man has been charged with arson in connection to a fire that damaged a downtown grocery store last week.

Timothy John Arsenal II, 36, is charged with second-degree arson of the downtown St. Paul Lunds & Byerlys.

RELATED: Fire that damaged downtown St. Paul Lunds & Byerlys believed to be arson

St. Paul Fire Department crews were called to the store, located near Robert Street North and 10th Street East, at around 2 a.m. on March 29 after an officer on patrol saw flames that were too hot for a fire extinguisher coming from several trash bins outside. Firefighters put out the flames but the exterior of Lunds & Byerlys was significantly damaged.

The criminal complaint also notes that heat from the fire damaged light bulbs on a nearby streetlamp, and one attached apartment building had smoke enter its bathroom. Smoke also caused extensive damage inside Lunds & Byerlys.

According to the complaint, around $350,000 of merchandise was thrown away due to damage, with the total damage estimate ranging from $500,000 to $800,000.

Investigators watched surveillance video and noticed a man carrying a white plastic bag while wearing a dark baseball cap, dark pants and a light hoodie near the trash bins. At one point, the man placed his hand into a recycling bin, and flames were seen a short time later the complaint states. Nobody else was seen near the bins between that point and when the fire erupted.

Police then talked with Regions Hospital, which said the suspect’s description matched a patient at the hospital — Arsenal. The complaint states hospital surveillance video caught Arsenal leaving the hospital carrying white plastic bags and matching the suspect’s description.

Authorities say Arsenal was wearing the same hoodie when he was arrested and he allegedly had a lighter in his possession.

The complaint notes that Arsenal is already in custody for other matters, and he has prior convictions for theft, burglary and controlled substances, and a history of civil commitments.

His initial court appearance hasn’t yet been set.

Lunds & Byerlys reopened on Friday.

If convicted, Arsenal could face up to 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.