A St. Paul man was charged Monday with setting a police squad car on fire late last week.
Brian L. Liston, 45, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with one count each of second-degree arson and first-degree property damage. The charges did not mention a possible motive.
According to the criminal complaint, St. Paul police and fire departments responded to a public housing complex at 727 Front Av. about 5:15 a.m. on June 8 for a vehicle fire. A St. Paul police car belonging to an officer who lived and worked there had been set ablaze.
Investigators found that gasoline had been used to start the fire on the outside of the car’s cargo hold. The vehicle, which was “significantly burned,” could be a total loss, the charges said.
The building’s surveillance video coverage did not extend to where the squad was parked, but showed a man, later identified as Liston, using the building’s back and front entrances several times two hours before the fire was reported. Liston was filmed carrying a backpack and walking in the direction of the squad.
Surveillance video also showed Liston in the building’s elevator about 5 a.m. “throwing his hands up twice in apparent frustration,” the charges said.
Liston later that day gave management notice that he was moving out. Authorities searched Liston’s apartment and found a backpack with a gas can inside.
After his arrest, Liston “spontaneously” told police that he told his drinking buddies he would mess up the squad, and that his friends must have done it. He was not questioned further because he declined to sign a form regarding the reading of his Miranda rights.