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Police: Man ignited Bible to steal from North Dakota Walmart

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 18:53:33-05

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A man poured lighter fluid on a Bible and ignited it at a Walmart in North Dakota in order to cause a distraction in hopes of stealing items from the store, according to a police affidavit.

The suspect was captured on surveillance video wearing a camouflage ski mask in the store in Bismarck where he went behind some boxes in the garden center area, the affidavit said. Soon a fire appears.

Court documents show 27-year-old Andrew Ells is charged with felony arson and endangering by fire or explosion. The documents don't list an attorney for him.

The affidavit doesn't explain why he used a Bible in starting the fire. He left the store through an emergency exit. It wasn't clear if he stole anything.

Store officials told police that the loss of merchandise to smoke damage is estimated at $300,000, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Ells is being held in the Burleigh Morton Detention Center on $25,000 cash bail.