ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Prosecutors say evidence indicates the suspected arsonist of a retail store in Albuquerque last weekend also committed other recent fires and acts of vandalism around the city.
They made the comments in court on Wednesday as a judge ordered David Hickman, a 28-year-old man arrested Saturday after being seen fleeing a fire at Old Navy near San Mateo and Interstate 40, to remain behind bars until his trial date.
Magistrate Karen Molzen said during a detention hearing Wednesday morning that prosecutors have a strong case against Hickman, who has been charged in federal court for using fire or explosives to damage the retail store, and she declined to release him prior to trial.
Alonzo Padilla, Hickman’s attorney, had asked that his client be released to a halfway house so he could receive counseling while awaiting trial. He said Hickman has family in the city who are supporting him while he faces the “serious charges.”
But Molzen said Hickman is a flight risk and a danger to the community.
“I’m glad nothing happened when Mr. Hickman was stopped by police,” she said.
Hickman was arrested by Albuquerque police after an officer heard explosions from the Old Navy store and then spotted Hickman fleeing the scene, prosecutors said in court. He had a firearm, a flare, an AR-15 rifle and Mason jars full of explosives in his vehicle when he was taken into custody.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Federici said that, while Hickman has been charged with starting only the Old Navy fire, there is evidence linking him to other recent fires set at Albuquerque businesses.
He said Hickman was carrying a list at the time of his arrest that identified Old Navy and at least one other business where a fire was set. Also, Mason jars containing a flammable liquid used in the Old Navy fire and in his possession when he was arrested, were used to set other fires.
There were eight instances of either fires or “suspicious devices” reported at various businesses throughout Albuquerque in recent weeks.
“There already are very obvious and clear linkages,” between the fires, Federici said.
Hickman is facing a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, though that could be increased to 30 years if it’s confirmed he used explosives.