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BYU-Idaho student gets felony arson charge after target shooting fire

Crime Watch

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ST. ANTHONY — A Brigham Young University-Idaho student faces a felony arson charge after allegedly starting a fire while target shooting Sunday.

Jason Erlandson, 19, of San Deigo, California, is charged with felony second-degree arson. According to a probable cause affidavit, Erlandson allegedly shot at an exploding target inside a TV which ignited an abandoned camper on fire in a rural area at about 4 p.m.

A witness called first responders and reported a black Toyota pickup truck quickly drove away from the fire. While firefighters put out the camper, a law enforcement officer stopped the pickup and found Erlandson and three other people inside.

Investigators with the St. Anthony Police Department, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Fremont County were on scene. They felt Erlandson would be most likely to cooperate and began asking him questions. Erlandson told a BLM officer that his fingerprints would be on the explosive target containers found 20 to 30 yards from the burnt camper, according to court documents.

Erlandson reportedly told investigators he placed the exploding target inside the TV that was inside the abandoned camper. Erlandson also said he fired a friend’s gun at the TV and admitted that when the fire ignited, the four drove away. The group then dropped the gun off at a house in St. Anthony.

Deputies placed Erlandson into handcuffs and booked him into the Fremont County Jail on the felony charge. The other three with Erlandson were let off with a warning that if they got into trouble in the next year deputies would file charges against them.

After an initial court appearance, Monday morning Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins released Erlandson on his own recognizance after Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake made the request.

A preliminary hearing for Erlandson is scheduled for Dec. 15 at the Fremont County Courthouse.

Although Erlandson is accused of a crime it does not necessarily mean he committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.