Mitchell Linder, a 30-year-old Hastings resident, was charged in the Adams County Court with arson and intentional property damage charges.
According to a warrantless arrest affidavit from the Nebraska State Fire Marshal, an investigator with the Fire Marshal's office was dispatched to a structure fire at the Hastings Landmark Implement location.
When the investigator arrived, he met with Hastings Rural Fire Chief Nathan Hamik who advised him that Linder, a Hastings Rural Fire Department volunteer, had called him to advise him of a trash can fire that had occurred earlier in the day that was a separate incident from the ongoing fire.
The investigator completed a fire origin and cause investigation that lead to the conclusion that there were multiple areas of origin within the parts department of Landmark Implement. According to the investigator's conclusions, the fire has been determined to be incendiary in nature, meaning that all natural and accidental ignition sources that were identified were ruled out as the fire's cause. The investigator then states in his report that "fire by human contributions cannot be ruled out."
Further conversations conducted by the Investigator determined that Linder was the last employee in the building, last seen in the building at 9:20 PM before the fire was reported at 9:43 PM on July 13th.
The Investigator then conducted another interview with Linder on August 18th, 2022. During this interview, Linder was advised of and waived his Miranda Rights. Linder allegedly went on to tell the Investigator that on the evening of July 13 at around 8:06 PM he entered the parts department and set a box on fire, then put the fire out with his hands.
Linder went on to state to the Investigator that he re-entered the building at 9:20 PM and re-ignited a box. He then left the building and did not return until he responded with the Hastings Rural Fire Department after the fire had been reported.
Based on this information, the Investigator arrested Linder on 2nd Degree Arson charges. 2nd Degree Arson in Nebraska is a Class III Felony. He was also charged with Criminal Mischief - Intentional Property Damage, a Class IV Felony.
If sentenced on the initial charge, Linder faces a maximum of 6 years imprisonment and a $35,000 fine. There is no minimum sentence.
Linder was given a personal recognizance bond of $5,000 on September 8, 2022. The fire was reported to have caused $6,000,000 in damages.