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Teen pleads to three charges in garage burglary, fire cases

WILLMAR -- One of three juveniles pleaded guilty Thursday to three third-degree burglary charges for burglarizing and setting fire to several garages in Willmar.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, five felony charges of first-degree arson, third-degree burglary and theft against Anthony Von Erickson, 16, of Willmar, will be dismissed. He will be sentenced Sept. 21.

Erickson, Cody Ryan Sander, 17, of Kandiyohi and a 15-year-old juvenile were all charged after the June 12 incidents. Sander has pleaded not guilty to a total of 12 felony charges. His next court appearance has not been set.

Criminal records of 16 and 17 years olds accused of felonies are public.

According to the petitions against Erickson and Sander, Willmar police officers and firefighters were called around 2:30 a.m. June 12 to a garage fire along the 600 block of Ninth Street Southwest. As officers were responding to that fire, they were informed that another garage, along the 500 block of Ninth Street, was also on fire. The resident of a nearby home reported his garage had been entered, a gas can moved and several items missing. Another nearby homeowner reported the next day that someone had attempted to start a vehicle on fire in their garage, but that the car did not catch fire.

Also missing from the garages, and other garages, was $1,262 in property, including a GPS unit, cooler, charcoal grill, stereo, compact discs, motorcycle helmet, beer, liquor, food and a backpack containing college books.

The suspects had used flammable materials to start the fire along the 600 block of Ninth Street Southwest and the fire destroyed a building and a 1993 Ford Taurus parked inside the garage. The intense blaze was punctuated by a number of explosions and spread to the rear of a neighboring home that was also damaged.

The fire along the 500 block destroyed the garage and an ATV and truck parked inside.

Another nearby homeowner heard a window being smashed and saw three people run away.

Around 5 a.m., a Pope County police dog was brought in to assist with the search for the suspects. Around the same time, the collection of items stolen from the garages was discovered at a location on Ninth Street Southwest.

The suspects were spotted nearby and officers pursued them on foot.

Sander and Erickson were arrested at a residence on Becker Avenue.

The 15-year old was apprehended by a Pope County deputy.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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