ROBERTS — The St. Croix Central Elementary School located in the Village of Roberts was broke into at approximately 3:46 a.m on Tuesday, April 30 according to a press release form the Roberts Police Department. Arson was suspected after investigators concluded a door had been forced open.
Roberts Police Chief Dan Burgess announced on Thursday, May 2 that a suspect had been taken into custody after further investigation at the school.
According to reports from the Hudson Star-Observer, on Friday, May, 3 bond was set at $100,000 for 24-year-old Justin W. Nelson of Roberts after setting the fire that caused around $1.5 million in damage. The office area suffered the majority of the damage with other heavy damage in the library and smoke damage throughout some of the classrooms.
He is charged with three felony counts: arson of a building, criminal damage to property and burglary of a building. A preliminary hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. Monday, May 13.
According to Investigator Brent Standaert of the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department, officers obtained a search warrant for the home where Nelson lives with his parents after a woman reported that Nelson had left a party the night of the fire following an argument. The elementary school is located directly between the house where the party was held and Nelson’s home.
Nelson is no stranger to the criminal scene, according to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, he received his first OWI last year after crashing into a semi-truck. He also received an operating left of center fine that day. He was also found guilty of a disorderly conduct incident in January 2012.
The State Fire Marshal’s office within the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department, River Falls Police Department, Hudson Police Department and Wisconsin State Patrol all joined with the Roberts Police Department and participated in this ongoing investigation.
The elementary school will be closed the remainder of the year, but students are set to finish out their last month at the Rolling Ridges Girl Scout Camp near Hudson.