Police arrested a man experiencing homelessness who tried to set Wheeler Mission on fire Sunday night, according to Bloomington Police Capt. Ryan Pedigo. Wheeler Mission is a shelter for area community members who are experiencing homelessness.
A 38-year-old man tied a bandana to a sprinkler above bed number 56 on the second floor of the shelter and set it on fire. The fire activated fire sprinklers, which caused an estimated 75-thousand-dollars in damage as the water soaked the top floor living quarters and leaked to the floor below.
Police were dispatched to the shelter in the 215 block of Westplex for the fire around 9:59 p.m., and soon located the man outside the building arguing with another person. A resident of the shelter identified the man as being the suspect who started the fire.
After police interviewed the man he was taken into custody for the charge of criminal mischief – loss of at least 50,000, a level 6 felony.
The Bloomingtonian does not have information on how this might affect those who were living at the shelter, or if the shelter is currently inhabitable. The Bloomington City Council, however, will continue to discuss, during a meeting this week, whether or not to allow unhoused community members unable to find shelter to camp in public parks.
Sleeping outside in Bloomington is illegal.