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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - What was initially reported as an out-of-control recreational fire is now being investigated as a case of arson.

Rochester police today reported the arrest of a 21-year-old Stewartville man on charges alleging he started the fire that caused significant damage to a detached garage at an apartment building in the 300 block of 27th Street Northeast. The Rochester Fire Department earlier stated that firefighters were called to the property around 6:30 Saturday morning to deal with a recreational fire that had spread to the garage, but police investigators say the fire actually involved a number of household items that had apparently been thrown out of a window of an apartment and then set on fire.

Rochester Fire Department photo
Rochester Fire Department photo

Investigators then discovered the apartment had been trashed, with furniture and other items thrown around, messages written on the walls, and holes in the walls that appeared to have been caused by someone with a hammer. A spokesman says the 22-year-old woman living in the apartment told police the messages were personal in nature and led her to believe the damage had been caused by Trenton Rudlong. She described him as a former boyfriend and indicated she had obtained a protection order against him because of some previous problems.

Police investigators later learned he had also entered another apartment in the building where the woman had previously lived while the current residents were hosting a party. They told police he was holding a hammer and was asked to leave. He was arrested Saturday afternoon after the manager of the apartment building called police and reported Rudlong had come back to the damaged apartment while he was working on repairs.

A spokesman says Rudlong was soon located by an officer, who happened to be with a K9 officer. The dog was released after he allegedly became combative and refused to obey the officer's commands. Rudlong allegedly responded by getting into a low stance and trying to choke the K9 before the officer used his Tazer, and after delivering two shocks, was able to subdue him.

Rudlong is expected to face a long list of charges, including arson, burglary, and drug possession. That charge stems from the 3 grams of cocaine that was allegedly in his possession when he was being processed into the Olmsted County Jail.

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