Arson Charges in Apartment Fire

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

A resident of a Glenwood apartment complex that suffered $30,000 in damages in a Dec. 21 fire has been charged with first degree arson after allegedly setting the blaze.

Jarrett D. Dunn, 36, the resident of Unit 10 where the blaze ignited in a kitchen area of the former Chief Motel at 6 North Locust St., was arrested on Dec. 23 after a confrontation with police. Damages to the complex were mostly confined to Dunn’s unit.

A warrant was issued for Dunn’s arrest on Dec. 22 but before officers could locate Dunn the Mills County Communications Center received a call from the Western Inn in Glenwood at approximately 11:15 a.m. on Dec. 23 about a disturbance involving a guest at the motel.

When officers arrived, the guest, who was identified as Dunn, had left the premises. Officers located Dunn a short time later walking along Locust Street. When confronted by officers, Dunn became combative, struggled with officers and was tasered three times in the scuffle, said Glenwood Interim Chief of Police Mike Mercer.

Dunn did not require medical attention. However, Glenwood Police Lt. Dirk Lincoln, who assisted in the arrest, did suffer a cut to his head in the scuffle that required medical attention, added Mercer.

The Iowa State Fire Marshall Office investigated the apartment fire and determined the fire was “suspicious.” Dunn came under suspicion for the fire almost immediately after the blaze was extinguished by the Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department, said Mercer.

“There were several witnesses to Dunn being in the area and making some strange comments at the time of the fire,” said Mercer. “It was pretty apparent he was the one who did it.”

Mercer said the burners on the stove in Dunn’s apartment were left on and several “paper products” were left in close proximity to the burners.

As a result of the fire 11 residents were evacuated. Most of the damage to the building was confined to Dunn's apartment. No injuries were reported.

Shirley Ring, who along with husband Wes, owns the property, said Dunn had lived in Unit 10 about 16 months.

At the time of the fire, Dunn was out on bail on an unrelated charge of first degree harassment, an aggravated misdemeanor. He was arrested twice previously for assault in 2004 and 2007.

First degree arson is a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Dunn was also charged with interference with official acts for resisting arrest. That charge is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison.

Dunn made his initial appearance in Mills County Court on Dec. 23 and his bail was set at $27,000. He remains in custody at the Mills County jail awaiting a Jan. 4 preliminary hearing. Dunn is represented by public defender Tim Markel.