(Mankato, MN) – A man police believe intentionally set two fires early Saturday morning has been criminally charged.

Dosman Kizito Charles, 31, faces multiple counts of first-degree arson in connection with fires started in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

According to the criminal complaint,  a witness called police at 3:28 a.m. June 22nd  to report that a man had walked into his Fourth Street home before encountering his dog and walking back out.

Less than ten minutes later, a Mankato Public Safety officer saw Charles on the 300 block of Jackson Street, just west of Fourth Street, according to the complaint.  Jackson matched the description of the man the witness had given police earlier.  Police say Charles was carrying a small red gas can, which he said he was taking to his vehicle. Charles couldn’t tell police where his vehicle was or where he got the gas can and was released, according to the complaint.

At 4:07 a.m., the first fire was reported on the 600 block of Fourth Street, several blocks from where Charles was stopped with the gas can, according to court documents.

At 4:22 a.m., another witness called police to report they’d encountered a man matching Charles’ description.  The woman said she’d been walking with her friend south on Fourth Street when they saw a “sketchy” man carrying a gas can as they approached Cherry Street.  According to the complaint, the woman saw the corner house on fire as the pair walked to the next block.

Court documents say that Blue Earth County Dispatch received a call of a second fire at 5:47 a.m.  That fire was approximately three and a half blocks away from the first.  An officer arriving on scene found the side door to a residence off Cedar Street in flames and was able to get a good portion under control with a hand extinguisher.

At 5:54, a newspaper delivery person called to report he’d spoken with a man matching Charles’ description and carrying a gas can near Walnut and Broad streets, according to the complaint.  The man asked the deliveryman when the courthouse opened and how he could put money on the books.  The witness said the man left on a bicycle.

Jackson was later located in the area of Second and Jackson streets.  Tissue paper and a lighter were found in his possession, according to the complaint.

Charles told police he had a gas can for his Buick Riviera and that he’d purchased $4 in gas from a station on Riverfront Drive, then walked back to his vehicle. An employee at the gas station denied selling gas to Charles, according to the complaint.

He later told investigators he was at the bars that evening and left at closing time, saying he’d walked into the wrong house.  He denied having anything to do with the fires, telling police he’d used the gas for his vehicle before placing the can in the trunk.

Investigators found the gas can in his vehicle but saw no visible signs of wetness from any type of liquid by the gas cap.  A lighter was also found in the center counsel.

Charles admitted to detectives he’d lied several times and that he didn’t put gas in his vehicle, then said he’d dumped the gas into the sewer, according to the complaint.

Charles is also facing two felony negligent fire charges and remains in custody.

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