MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 45-year-old St. Paul man is accused of setting fire to a squad car of an officer who lives at his housing complex.
Brian Liston is charged with second-degree arson and first-degree damage to property, both felonies, in connection to the June 8 incident, documents filed in Ramsey County show.
According to the criminal complaint, St. Paul fire and police crews responded at 5:15 a.m. to 727 Front Avenue on the report of a vehicle fire. The vehicle was a St. Paul police squad car, used by an officer who lives and serves in the public housing complex.
The fire was extinguished when emergency responders arrived.
An investigation found the fire started on the exterior of the rear cargo area with gasoline on the rear windshield. The ignition source is believed to be an open flame. It was determined the fire was started by an intentional human act.
Using surveillance footage, authorities were able to identify a suspect who was seen walking out of the building before the fire with a backpack around 3 a.m., heading towards where the squad car was parked. He was seen entering and exiting the building a few times after, with the last time being 5 a.m. The fire was reported 15 minutes later.
That man was identified as Liston and a resident in the building. Shortly after 12 p.m. on June 8, investigators were notified that Liston gave notice to vacate his apartment.
After securing a warrant to search Liston’s apartment, officers found the backpack that Liston was seen wearing. There was a gas can inside.
Liston was then taken into custody. Investigators attempted to read his Miranda rights to him, but he refused to sign the form and became very agitated. Police say he spontaneously said he told his drinking buddies that he would “f—k up” the squad car and that they must have done it. He wasn’t interviewed further.
A person who lives next to Liston also suspects him of another fire, reported on June 2. The resident placed a towel under his door to keep cool air in, and the towel was set on fire. The resident suspected Liston of starting the fire.
If convicted of the charges, Liston could face up to 10 years in prison on the arson charge and up to 5 years in prison on the damage to property charge.