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Prosecutors say a Minneapolis man accused of slashing a light rail passenger with a knife had also tried to start a police squad car on fire just three days earlier.

Elias L. Lavelle was charged in Hennepin County District Court Monday with second-degree arson in connection with the Dec. 29 incident involving a police vehicle. That complaint comes just six days after prosecutors charged Lavelle with second-degree assault, with charges alleging he used a knife to slice a light rail passenger's cheek and forehead on New Year's Day.

Lavelle was charged Monday via warrant and is not listed in Hennepin County Jail as of 3 p.m. He'd been arrested Jan. 1 in connection with the light rail assault, then was conditionally released four days later.

Here's what the two separate criminal complaints say happened in each incident:

On Dec. 29, an off-duty Minneapolis police officer — working security at the Walgreens on downtown's Nicollet Mall — had his marked squad car parked on the sidewalk outside the convenience store. Just before 6 p.m. he walked outside and saw an object on fire under the squad car.

He put it out, and looked closer to find a T-shirt soaked in gasoline beneath the vehicle.

Surveillance video shows Lavelle pull something from his backpack, light it on fire, then place the object beneath the squad car. He walked away and left on a bus. 

The squad had damage to the rear bumper and undercarriage.

Three days later, Metro Transit police were called to the Green Line's East Bank Station in Minneapolis, after a report of a man with a knife as well as an assault.

The victim, a man, said he'd been pushed off the train by an individual later identified as Lavelle. He also had lacerations on his right cheek and left side of his forehead, which required "multiple stitches" and will result in "permanent disfigurement."

Lavelle was on the train, held at the West Bank Station, and arrested by officers. He admitted to cutting the victim's face with a knife and said, at one point, he held a knife to the man's throat and said he would kill him — but claimed it was in self-defense after the victim first threatened to kill him.

Surveillance video shows otherwise, with authorities noting Lavelle was the "primary aggressor," with the victim not heard making any threats toward him.

Lavelle is seen wearing the same clothing and backpack during both incidents. Authorities, after his Jan. 1 arrest, also found a bus card in his wallet matching the one used on Dec. 29 to leave the scene of the squad fire.

Monday's criminal complaint argues Lavelle is "a risk to public safety." He's charged with second-degree arson in that case, and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon in the light rail incident.

He was granted a public defender in the assault case, and has a hearing scheduled for Jan. 31 at 2:30 p.m.

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