A suspect in last month’s fire at Ric’s Food Center was arraigned on multiple charges stemming from the incident.
Dennis Michael Jenks, 23, of Riverdale was arraigned Sept. 16 on charges of arson, damage to property, 3rd-degree retail fraud and disorderly conduct. The case is under investigation by the Mount Pleasant Police Department.
Along with another man seen in video surveillance footage released to the public that day, Jenks was found by police at the corner of Mission and High Streets on the day of the fire. According to Public Information Officer Jeff Thompson, the other man will likely not be charged.
“Based on the description that went out, (Jenks) was located later that day,” Thompson said. “The investigation identified him as starting the fire. I’m sure he’ll be convicted of something. I don’t think he’s disagreeing that he’s the person who started it.”
Thompson said Jenks is working on a deal with attorneys and will likely plead not guilty. Many of the charges, Thompson said, relate to the intent. Thompson indicated the blaze might have been set accidentally.
“He intentionally lit something on fire, but I don’t think he meant to set the store on fire,” Thompson said. “It’s not like they lit something and ran out the door.”
The Mount Pleasant Fire Department first responded to the “suspicious” fire at the 705 S. Mission St. store in the early morning of Aug. 22.
When firefighters arrived to the store at 3:39 a.m., they found a display rack had been ignited, activating the store’s sprinkler system. The store suffered smoke and water damage.
“A lot of the damage was due to the water suppression system,” MPFD Lt. Rick Beltinck said. “There was a lot of smoke and water damage around the rack.”
Police Detective Dave Sabuda said a “suspicious” fire is classified as one without an identified ignition source, leading investigators to believe that it was started by a person. Along with sending out the images and asking for tips, police canvassed the neighborhood for any information related to the incident.