Man appears in court in Battle Ground library arson

19-year-old was convicted in August of writing bomb threats at high school

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: January 7, 2014, 7:14 PM

 

A 19-year-old man, convicted in August of writing bomb threats inside a high school restroom, appeared Tuesday in Clark County Superior Court on new allegations that he started two fires in the Battle Ground Community Library.

Luke M. Love of Battle Ground is accused of setting fires on Monday and on Nov. 14 in the men’s restroom at the library, 1207 S.E. Eighth Way, according to a court affidavit. In both cases, library books were used to start the fires, said Sue Vanlaanen, spokeswoman for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.

Love will face charges of two counts of first-degree arson at his Jan. 17 arraignment.

Judge Suzan Clark on Tuesday held Love on $100,000 bail, out of concern for community safety, she said. She appointed Vancouver attorney Susan Stauffer to defend him.

The new accusations have similar elements to an incident last Feb. 28 when Love wrote a bomb threat on a wall in a boys’ restroom at Battle Ground High School. He pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to threats to bomb and felony harassment and was sentenced to five days in jail and 25 days on a work crew.

Monday’s fire was reported at 10:34 a.m.

According to the affidavit, Love left his tutor in a study room at the library after saying that he was getting a drink from a water fountain. Battle Ground Public Schools provides Love with a home tutor because he is no longer allowed on the high school campus after the bomb threats, district officials said during a previous court hearing.

When Love returned to the study room, his tutor said she heard the library’s fire alarm sounding, prompting the building to be evacuated.

Evidence at the scene suggests that Love set the fire inside a garbage can, according to the affidavit. A basic astronomy book was burned during the fire, Vanlaanen said.

Battle Ground police found Love was carrying a lighter, the affidavit says.

The library sustained minor damage.

During an interview with detectives, Love admitted to setting both fires, the affidavit says.

In the Nov. 14 fire, at least three books were burned. One was a basic math review book; the other two were charred and couldn’t be identified, Vanlaanen said.

Love struggles with multiple disabilities and mental health issues, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and major depression, according to court documents.