DULUTH, MN (WAOW) — The man charged in connection to the fire that destroyed a Duluth synagogue pleaded guilty in court Tuesday.
According to court records, Matthew Amiot, 36, entered the guilty pleas to negligent fire and negligent fires-human being injured/bodily harm in St. Louis County Court.
The fire destroyed the Adas Israel Synagogue in the early morning hours on September 9.
According to the criminal complaint, Amiot was seen walking behind Adas Israel shortly after 2 a.m.
The complaint states a sukkah, which is a separate religious structure, was in the back of the synagogue, and created a small space about two feet wide.
The complaint goes on to say Amiot apparently lit a variety of combustible materials on fire with a lighter in the small space, and is then seen walking away from the synagogue and looking back at the flames.
According to police, they arrived at 2:22 a.m. to find three foot tall flames coming from the small space, and by 3:39 a.m., the synagogue began to collapse, which caused a near miss for many of the firefighters on scene.
The complaint says one of the Captains of the Duluth Fire Department was hit by debris and was knocked unconscious.
He was then taken to a hospital to be treated for a concussion.
Authorities say the synagogue couldn’t be saved, and although officials numbers are still unknown, the value of the building was at least $117,000, and the value of all the lost religious artifacts is at least $250,000.
According to the complaint, Amiot said in a Mirandized statement that he admitted to starting the materials on fire, and also said he tried to spit on the fire to put it out, and then walked away when it wouldn’t go out.
Amiot, who does not have a permanent address, is scheduled to be sentenced on October 25.