Arson suspect arrested for B & J Laundromat fire

NU police also recover two handguns, concertina taken in robberies

NEW ULM — New Ulm Police arrested a 30-year-old New Ulm man Friday as a suspect involved in the Aug. 30 fire at the B & J Laundromat, 506 Center St.

A search warrant was conducted at an apartment in New Ulm in connection with an arson investigation surrounding the case. The suspect has not yet been formally charged, according to a police news release.

New Ulm Police Department Senior Investigator Jeff Hohensee lauded the work of New Ulm Police officer Tara Martin who reviewed laundromat surveillance camera video and noticed a vehicle from prior contacts.

“She did a great job, linking past experience with a vehicle in the video which really shone light in the investigation,” Hohensee said.

The laundromat fire was reported at 6:56 a.m. Thursday when a caller reported smoke coming from the building. Firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the first and second floor. A second-floor apartment occupant escaped from the building without injury after being alerted by smoke detectors.

The fire was under control within 40 minutes. Crews were at the scene for several hours to ensure the fire did not spread. The first floor of the laundromat had heavy fire and smoke damage. There was smoke damage to second-floor apartments. Adjacent buildings were ventilated for light smoke. One firefighter had a minor injury.

In addition, as a result of the search warrant, information was obtained that led Hohensee Friday to the City of Lewisville, in southern Watonwan County. With help from the Watonwan County Sheriff’s Office, two handguns were recovered from a residence. Police allege they are two of the three guns stolen from R&R Bait & Tackle, New Ulm Aug. 29.

In addition, a Patek Nonpareil concertina was recovered at a Lewisville residence. Police believe the concertina is the same one stolen Aug. 27 in a burglary at Southside Auto Salvage in New Ulm.

Hohensee said authorities continue to search for a .45 caliber, semi-automatic FNH handgun also reported stolen at R&R Bait & Tackle last week.

“The missing handgun is a huge public safety issue. We will continue to investigate this case,” Hohensee said.

The Brown County Attorney’s Office will review law enforcement reports on the stolen and recovered items. Formal charges are expected on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Assisting agencies in the cases include the Watonwan, Nicollet and Brown County Sheriff’s Departments, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).