St. Paul man in custody on suspicion of apartment arson |

St. Paul man in custody on suspicion of apartment arson

St. Paul man in custody on suspicion of apartment arson Photo: Jon Murphy/KSTP-TV.

Gracie Stockton
Updated: September 16, 2021 05:05 PM
Created: September 15, 2021 05:42 PM

A man has been arrested on felony arson charges after he allegedly lit an apartment on fire in St. Paul, court records show.

Matthew Gieske, 38, is in custody at the Ramsey County jail for first-degree arson in a dwelling.

On Sept. 7, a man was walking to deposit some dog food in his sister's car near 1650 Marion Street when he noticed Gieske holding a butcher knife, according to a complaint. The witness, listed in the complaint as "MD," recognized him from the apartment building and told police Gieske had "displayed odd behavior" before, allegedly calling himself "the devil" and "Satan." During the encounter on the street, MD tried to move his sister away from Gieske and told him to get away from them; he fled on foot. 

MD's sister left and he went up to his second-floor apartment. He soon heard someone turning his doorknob and walked over to investigate. Gieske "had a history" of trying doorknobs and knocking on various doors in the building, the complaint states. MD thought he smelled lighter fluid or burnt cinnamon and told Gieske to go away. Gieske was hitting the door and MD heard him using a lighter fluid can. He told Gieske he would call the police and looked out his peephole. 

Gieske was holding something in his hand — the witness told investigators it could have been a lighter — that was aflame. Flames then engulfed the door, entered the apartment and spread underneath the door. MD fled from the apartment's balcony. 

The building was damaged severely by the fire.

Outside of MD's apartment in the hallway, officers found a partially melted gas can.

Police made contact with Gieske, who appeared to be in crisis, according to the complaint. They took him into custody; he declined an interview upon arrest. MD positively identified him as the arsonist, according to police, in a "show-up" — which is like a line-up. Gieske has prior convictions for terroristic threats, being a felon in possesion of a firearm, violating a protection order and disorderly conduct.

Gieske's bail is set at $100,000 and he remains in custody in the Ramsey County jail. His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 21. 

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