Willmar woman faces charges for arson, bodily harm and assault
WILLMAR -- A Willmar woman faces five charges stemming from an alleged attempt to set a fire and cause an explosion in a house Sunday evening in a southwest Willmar neighborhood.
WILLMAR - A Willmar woman faces five charges stemming from an alleged attempt to set a fire and cause an explosion in a house Sunday evening in a southwest Willmar neighborhood.
Barbara Ann Nelson, 57, is charged with three felony counts of first-degree arson, first-degree foreseeable risk bodily harm, and terroristic threats; a gross misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault; and a misdemeanor charge of fleeing a peace officer by means other than a motor vehicle.
Nelson made her first appearance Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court, and Judge Michael J. Thompson set bail at $50,000.
The criminal complaint alleges Nelson intentionally damaged a building used as a dwelling; dispensed accelerant in the home and garage and attempted to cause an explosion; announced to others that an explosion would occur at a particular residence; punched and kicked at a peace officer; and attempted to evade police officers.
The owners were not home at the time, but learned about the incident from a neighbor. The complaint states that Nelson is a relative and that she had been staying at the house for a few days.
The complaint states that three Willmar police officers were dispatched to the home in the 2200 block of 23rd Street Southwest based on a report that a female was riding around on a bicycle saying that there was going to be an explosion at that address. Officers did not see her, but dispatch said multiple residences were calling about the woman on the bike talking about an explosion.
Officers returned to the house and saw a large amount of clothing or bedding hanging out the southwest corner window and saw several items in the grass. The complaint states an officer saw smoke and could smell smoke coming from inside the residence. Several east-facing windows were also open, and heavy smoke was seen through an open kitchen area window.
A walk-in garage door was also open, and an officer saw a vehicle, smelled a strong odor of gasoline and saw that some type of fluid had been squirted onto the garage floor.
An officer alerted other officers about smoke in the house and possible presence of accelerant in the garage, requested the fire department be called to the residence and began evacuating surrounding residences.
While officers were containing what the complaint states was a dangerous situation at the residence, other police officers, State Patrol troopers and Kandiyohi County sheriff’s deputies converged on southwest Willmar to search for the woman on the bike.
A deputy observed a woman riding a bicycle on the sidewalk along 19th Avenue Southwest. The woman evaded two attempts by the deputy to stop and talk to the bicyclist, and she headed north on Ninth Street Southwest.
A state trooper followed the bicyclist in his squad car as she cut eastbound behind a manufacturing plant and rode through backyards. The trooper exited his vehicle and followed the woman into the enclosed backyard of a residence in the 1700 block of 7½ Street Southwest.
The woman lunged at the trooper, kicked him, and attempted to punch him. As the trooper struggled to keep the woman from kicking him, she used a lighter to light her hair on fire. The trooper used his right hand to put out the fire while maintaining a hold on her left arm.
The woman was handcuffed by the trooper, a police officer and deputy, and was taken by ambulance to medical care after saying she was going to have a heart attack. A police officer who accompanied the woman said she spoke without making much sense except that she had meant to “burn the place down’’ by using the stove. The woman said that she did not trust her sister, and the woman said another person tried to feed her handmade sausages to hurt her.