A Braham man has been charged with arson and burglary after allegedly trying to burn down a house he had burglarized.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Pine County court, on Aug. 12, officers from the Pine County Sheriff’s Office and the Pine City Fire Department were dispatched to a residence on Henriette Road in Grasston after a house was reported on fire.

A deputy arrived first and could see dark, heavy smoke coming from the southern side of the residence. The homeowner told the deputy that no one was inside, but added that someone had broken into the residence and started it on fire. The deputy could see fresh vehicle tire burn marks in the gravel and an aluminum ladder leaning against the window. Flames were coming out through a broken window on the southwest side of the house.

The owner of the house said that she and another person had been in Mora and were on their way home but when they got close to the residence they saw a vehicle parked near the garage door with the dome light on. No one was supposed to be at the property.

They pulled in next to the vehicle and honked. A white male, approximately six feet tall, came out from the southwest side of the building with a blanket or sheet wrapped around his hand. They said he was holding a window screen, and it looked like he had a cut on his arm. The man told them he was hurt and looking for help, then got into his car and drove off west on Henriette Road. They were able to get a license plate on his vehicle. They then discovered that the house was on fire and called 911.

Once the Pine City Fire Department had extinguished the fire, officers entered the residence. They found a lighter on the rocking chair in the living room area. The owner said the lighter did not belong to her. Part of the residence was burned extensively and the ceiling had fallen in, but the rest of the house was still intact.

Deputies had prior contact with the vehicle with the license plate identified by the victim related to David Ernest Schaer, 49, of Braham.

On Aug. 12, the Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a person who said that Schaer had showed up at their house with a large bleeding cut on his right arm and that he was now collapsed on the floor. A deputy arrived and identified Schaer. The deputy learned that Pine County was looking for Schaer and notified Pine County he had found him. Schaer was taken to the hospital for treatment for his arm.

The person told deputies that Schaer had said he had “gotten desperate” and tried to rob a place but was on a ladder and cut his arm. He said there was blood all over the carpet and he was worried about his DNA. He then found some gas and started a fire. As he was leaving, two women showed up and he told them he was going to get medical attention.

Schaer had surgery on his wrist and was then taken into custody by the Pine County Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 13.

Deputies executed a search warrant at Schaer’s residence on Aug. 13 and found two loaded shotguns. A record check showed that Schaer is ineligible to possess firearms due to numerous prior convictions.

Schaer has been charged with felony first-degree arson, felony second-degree and third-degree burglary and possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a crime of violence.

Schaer faces a maximum charge of 20 years in prison, a $30,000 fine or both.

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