The New London teen arrested Wednesday for suspected arson now faces multiple felony charges.
Jesse M. McLamarrah, 19, was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted homicide, two counts of arson, three counts of reckless endangerment and attempted burglary.
He is accused of intentionally trying to kill two people, Devon Ryan and April Hardegen.
Fire at Copper Shot Bar
Shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday, May 20, New London Police Officer Mike Harlow was patrolling North Water Street near Copper Shot Bar when he saw Ryan screaming for help.
Ryan, age 23, was bleeding profusely from an open wound on his right arm.
Harlow called dispatch and requested an ambulance.
Harlow then spoke with Hardegen, who was covered in blood and holding a blanket around her arm.
The couple told the officer they were injured because they had jumped out of the second-story window of their apartment.
When Harlow asked why they had jumped, Ryan replied that the place was on fire.
At that time, Harlow noticed heavy black smoke coming out of the windows above the Copper Shot Bar. He contacted the fire department.
New London Police Captain Jay Zemple told the New London Press Star that Ryan and Hardegen hung from windowsill and fell onto a dumpster below.
“Apparently when they hit the dumpster they went forward and into a window on the first floor,” Zemple said.
Ryan underwent surgery for his injuries on Tuesday afternoon.
While Harlow was providing first aid to Ryan and Hardegen, who told him she was pregnant, Officer Ben Schmidt and Sgt. Earl Ruckdashel arrived at the scene.
They ran up the stairs to the five apartments located above the bar.
The hallway was filling with smoke as Schmidt and Ruckdashel pounded on the doors to rouse the tenants.
Schmidt was able to alert two tenants immediately, Justin Czarnecki and Susann Vanderwielen.
Ruckdashel carried the bare-footed Vanderwielen across broken glass in order to help her out of the building.
Schmidt continued pounding on doors, but nobody responded at one of the remaining apartments.
The officers then kicked down the door, found the sleeping tenant, James Fitzsimons, and helped him exit the building.
By the time the upstairs was too filled with smoke for the Schmidt and Ruckdashel to remain, all the tenants had been evacuated.
The apartment belonging to Ryan and Hardegen was the only part of the building directly damaged by the flames. The other apartments and the bar sustained smoke and water damage.
After firefighters extinguished the blaze, Ruckdashel and Detective Capt. Don Conat, who is with both the New London Fire Department and the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department, began investigating the scene.
Ruckdashel noted that the fire seemed to have originated near the front door of Ryan’s and Hardegen’s apartment, close to the floor.
He also found a vase on the floor near the door. When he picked it up, he noticed that it smelled of gasoline.
Second fire at playground
Shortly before 4 a.m. Tuesday, New London police and firefighters were called out to a fire at New London High School, located at 1500 Klatt Road.
When the Schmidt and Harlow arrived, they found playground equipment engulfed in flames. They also noted a strong odor of gasoline.
Using a flashlight, the officers found a trail of burnt grass leading from the playground to an area in front of the high school.
Schmidt also found a busted door near the school library. He and the other officers checked the scene, but found nobody inside.
Hunch leads to arrest
At approximately 10 a.m. Tuesday, while state fire marshals and a canine unit were still investigating evidence at the two scenes, Officer Dave Klinzing, the New London police-school liaison officer, went to McLamarrah’s home.
McLamarrah’s car was parked outside the house with its windows open. Klinzing noticed the odor of gasoline.
“Klinzing went there on a hunch, McLamarrah has had past incidents with the school and Ryan,” New London Police Chief Jeffrey Schlueter told the Waupaca County Post. “This case shows how important the PSLO is to our community. The PSLO really gets to know the kids.”
Soon, Klinzing was joined by Officer Josh Wilson and Capt. Chris Gregory.
McLamarrah came outside and approached the officers.
When he was asked about the odor of gasoline coming from his car, McLamarrah reportedly said he had run out of gas three days ago and a friend who helped him had placed a gas can in the back seat.
McLamarrah was then arrested and taken to the New London Police Department for further questioning.
According to the criminal complaint, McLamarrah told Wilson that he was angry because Ryan had been slow in paying back $100 that he owed him.
McLamarrah allegedly woke up around 2 a.m., took a vase, a sock and a gas can out to his car, then drove to a Kwik Trip where he purchased gasoline, pumping some of it into his car and some into the gas can.
He then went to Anchor Park, which is located near the Copper Shot Bar. He poured gas into the vase, stuck in the sock and walked to the bar and entered through the back door that leads to the upstairs apartments, the complaint says.
McLamarrah told Wilson that he threw the vase at Ryan’s apartment door and ran.
Later, investigators say McLamarrah went to the high school with the remaining gas and a dumbbell, where he unsuccessfully tried to break a glass pane in the door leading to the library.
He then walked around the school to the playground, poured gasoline on the equipment and made a trail of gas that he ignited with his lighter, police say.
McLamarrah remains in custody after Waupaca County Judge Philip Kirk ordered a $200,000 cash bail.
He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted of attempted homicide.
John Faucher of the New London Press Star contributed to this report.