Suspect in synagogue fire says he tried to put it out

Suspect in synagogue fire says he tried to put it out

The suspect accused of burning a 119-year-old synagogue in Duluth, Minnesota, last week said he tried to "spit" the fire out and left when he could not, according to a criminal complaint obtained by CNN.

Matthew Amiot, 36, was formally charged in court Monday with a felony count of negligent fires and a misdemeanor count of negligent fires with injury to a person, CNN affiliate WCCO reported.

The affiliate reported that the complaint said Amiot was seen setting "a variety of combustible materials" on fire behind the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue last Monday at about 2:13 a.m.


A judge reportedly set his bond at $20,000.

Amiot's attorney told CNN affiliate KBJR that he denies all allegations. 

Police in the city maintain that there is no evidence Amiot acted on hate when setting the fire, though Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken has not provided an alternative motive.

The Duluth synagogue was completely destroyed in the blaze. A firefighter was knocked unconscious by falling debris when responding to the fire and sent to the hospital with a concussion.

Amiot was arrested on Sunday.