By Lisa Pett
An 18-year-old Stevens Point man is charged with arson as a result of the investigation into last week’s fire at the Dollar General Store on Church St.
Brian Kraus appeared via video feed before Judge John Finn to face charges of setting fire to the building.
The fire occurred on May 7, around 6 PM while there were several customers and employees inside. Everyone was evacuated and no injuries were reported. The fire was put out by firefighters from the Stevens Point Fire Department.
Officers from the Stevens Point Police Department questioned employees and witnesses. It was initially believed that an employee putting food in a microwave caused the fire. According to officers, Kraus was in the building at the time of the fire. He was questioned but later viewing of the surveillance video from the store did not match his story.
Kraus was interviewed again on May 13 and in a statement to police admitted that he set the fire using a paper plate and a lighter. Officers placed him under arrest for arson.
Assistant District Attorney David Knaapen requested a substantial cash bond due to the severity of the crime. Kraus has no prior criminal history.
Judge Finn agreed to the request and set a cash bond of $25,000, highlighting the seriousness of the act and the fact that there were people inside the store at the time of the fire. As a condition of his bond, Kraus is to have no contact with Dollar General or its employees, including during any incarceration. He is also forbidden from having lighters, matches or any flammable liquids.
His next court appearance is set for June 1.