AUBURN — Authorities say a Lewiston man spread gasoline through the rooms of his ex-girlfriend's apartment before trying to burn it down.
Trezjuan Thompson, 26, of 64 Oxford St. was charged with arson. He denied being in Auburn at 12:35 a.m. Tuesday when a fire was reported at 48 Academy St.
But his ex-girlfriend, Kristin Coolidge, told police she thought Thompson was the one who set the fire in her apartment while she was away, according to a sworn affidavit by Daniel Young, a senior investigator at the State Fire Marshal's Office in Augusta.
Thompson's current girlfriend, Lindsey Mercier, 21, of Lewiston told police she drove Thompson to a Cumberland Farms store Tuesday on Center Street where he bought a small gasoline container and pumped gas into it. He told her to drive to an area near High and Academy streets and wait in her car, a silver or gray Hyundai.
While she was parked in a private driveway, Thompson took off on foot with the gas container, she told police.
When he got back to her car a few minutes later, Thompson was running and breathless, she said. He didn't have the container.
A witness at the scene of the fire reported seeing a lone man dressed in a dark hooded coat running from the apartment building between houses across the street.
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office said they used a dog, Shasta, to determine that a flammable liquid, such as gasoline, was poured in Coolidge's second-floor bedroom, kitchen, living room and doorway into the hallway. The dog later indicated a flammable liquid was on Thompson's sneaker, the same one he wore when he was with Mercier.
A clerk at the Cumberland Farms store told police that shortly before midnight on Monday, a black man came into the store and bought a red plastic gas container and filled it at the pumps. He also bought cigarettes and a cigar. A woman was in a waiting car and they drove off together with the gas container, the clerk said. She couldn't pick Thompson out of a photo lineup of six men. Investigators are seeking the store's surveillance tape and cash register receipt from that time.
Auburn police Detective Chad Syphers wrote in a sworn statement Tuesday that Coolidge's relationship with Thompson had been "extremely volatile" and that she had been assaulted by him, including one time when he put a 9 mm handgun inside her mouth and threatened to pull the trigger. He had pulled guns on her at other times and had threatened her life, she said.
Police went to the Big Apple store on Main Street where a man reported that Thompson had just threatened him with a gun. The officer later stopped Mercier's car in Lewiston. She and Thompson got out. Police arrested Thompson for violation of a protection order. Police found a 9 mm handgun in the trunk of the car. It wasn't loaded, but the clip was filled with rounds, Syphers wrote. Police believe Thompson reached behind him and put the gun in the trunk after being spotted by police and before he got out of the car.
Mercier said Thompson usually carried the gun in the waistband of his pants. She said she thought Thompson put something in the back seat as police were following her car.
Since 2006 in Maine, Thompson has been convicted of one charge of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, for which he was fined $400 and spent 48 hours in jail; one charge of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs, fined $400; carrying a concealed weapon, fined $100; disorderly conduct and fighting; domestic violence criminal threatening, and sentenced to 45 days in jail. While in jail, Thompson was charged with two felony counts of trafficking in prison contraband, which were added to his disorderly conduct conviction.
Also since 2006, Thompson was convicted six times of violating conditions of his release, spending a total of 14 days in the county jail on two of those convictions.
Police charged him Wednesday with arson, a Class A felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He also was charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Thompson appeared in 8th District Court in Lewiston Wednesday where a judge ordered him held on $25,000 cash bail. He was ordered to have no contact with any of the witnesses in the arson case and no possession of weapons, and is subject to random searches.
Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell said he was disappointed that the judge lowered bail from $50,000 cash.
"This is someone that has, since his release, done nothing but stalk this woman," Crowell said. "This decision continues the fear this victim feels for her life."
No one was injured in the Academy Street fire Tuesday morning.