DULUTH, Minn. (KBJR6) — Charges were formally filed against the man accused of setting a fire which burned the Adas Israel synagogue to the ground one week ago.
Matthew Amiot, 36, made his first court appearance Monday morning where he was formally charged with one felony count of negligent fire, and a misdemeanor count of negligent fires – human being injured and bodily harm.
Bail was set at $20,000 during the hearing.
According to the criminal complaint, Amiot was seen walking behind Adas Israel shortly after 2 a.m. on Monday, September 9.
The complaint states a sukkah, which is a separate religious structure, was in the back of the synagogue, and created a small space about two feet wide.
The complaint goes on to say Amiot apparently lit a variety of combustible materials on fire with a lighter in the small space, and is then seen walking away from the synagogue and looking back at the flames.
According to police, they arrived at 2:22 a.m. to find three foot tall flames coming from the small space, and by 3:39 a.m., the synagogue began to collapse, which caused a near miss for many of the firefighters on scene.
The complaint says one of the Captains of the Duluth Fire Department was hit by debris and was unconscious.
He was then taken to a hospital to be treated for a concussion.
Authorities say the synagogue couldn’t be saved, and although officials numbers are still unknown, the value of the building was at least $117,000, and the value of all the lost religious artifacts is at least $250,000.
According to the complaint, Amiot said in a Mirandized statement that he admitted to starting the materials on fire, and also said he tried to spit on the fire to put it out, and then walked away when it wouldn’t go out.
However at Monday’s court appearance, an attorney representing Amiot said Amiot denies all allegations against him, and claims he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The complaint states a K9 was used at the scene to help find accelerants, but none were found.