Woman charged with setting fire to downtown Marshalls store, causing $500K damage

The store only just reopened after the July 15 blaze.
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Authorities identified the woman suspected of setting a fire in a downtown Minneapolis Marshalls store, causing significant damage and causing it to close for weeks.

Lewonda Jones, 38, of Brooklyn Center, has been charged this week with 1st and 2nd degree arson following the blaze on the morning of July 15.

Surveillance footage showed Jones walking into the Marshalls at 600 Nicollet Mall and pull out a grill lighter from her pocket.

She then set fire to a 5-foot long clothing rack, which burned for several minutes before the manager noticed the smoke, and extinguished the fire before the alarm could go off.

It nonetheless caused $500,000-worth of fire and smoke damage to the store, which only just re-opened last week, and that doesn't include lost revenue.

Jones was identified thanks to the public appeal made by Minneapolis police earlier this month, which saw surveillance images of the suspect distributed to local media.

Police received four tips all identifying the suspect as Jones, two of them from people who had seen her at a women's shelter in Grand Avenue, St. Paul.

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Surveillance footage obtained from the shelter showed her wearing the same clothing as the Marshalls arsonist on the day of the fire.

Another tipster recognized her from a shelter in Fargo, North Dakota, which is where she was found and taken into custody.

The criminal complaint against her was compiled prior to her arrest, so contains no details as to what motivated her to carry out the alleged arson.

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