ST. ANTHONY – A student at Brigham Young University in Idaho faces arson charge after allegedly starting a fire during target shooting on Sunday.
Jason Erlandson, 19, of San Deigo, Calif., Is charged with second degree arson. According to an affidavit of probable cause, Erlandson allegedly shot at an exploding target inside a television set that set an abandoned motorhome in a rural area on fire at around 4 p.m.
A witness called first responders and reported that a black Toyota pickup truck quickly pulled away from the blaze. As firefighters shut down the camper van, a law enforcement officer stopped the pickup and found Erlandson and three other people inside.
Investigators from the St. Anthony Police Department, the United States Bureau of Land Management and Fremont County were at the scene. They felt that Erlandson would be the most likely to cooperate and started asking him questions. Erlandson told a BLM officer his fingerprints are believed to be on containers of explosive targets found 20 to 30 yards from the burnt motorhome, court documents show.
Erlandson reportedly told investigators he placed the explosive target inside the TV set inside the abandoned camper van. Erlandson also said he shot a friend’s gun on the television and admitted that when the fire started the four were gone. The group then dropped off the gun at a house in St. Anthony.
MPs handcuffed Erlandson and sentenced him to Fremont County Jail for the felony. The other three along with Erlandson were let loose with a warning that if they got into trouble next year MPs would press charges against them.
After a first court appearance on Monday morning, Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins released Erlandson on his own recognizance after Fremont County District Attorney Lindsey Blake requested it.
A preliminary hearing for Erlandson is scheduled for Dec. 15 at the Fremont County courthouse.
While Erlandson is charged with a crime, that doesn’t necessarily mean he committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.