Mason County Courthouse arson suspect charged in relation to fire that destroyed 111-year-old building

Crime

MASON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The man suspected of starting the fire that decimated the 111-year-old Mason County Courthouse on Thursday, Feb. 4 has been charged.

Nicholas Miller, who was arrested Friday morning after a police pursuit in Williamson County, faces two felony charges of arson and one charge of burglary of a building.

The Texas Department of Public Safety arrested Miller after he reportedly continued driving into Jarrell until finally coming to a stop south of Waco. He was booked into the McLennan County Jail and charged with felony evading arrest.

According to McClennan County, Miller has not yet been indicted and doesn’t have an attorney at this time.

The courthouse fire reportedly started around 10 p.m. Feb. 4. By 1:30 a.m., Mason County Judge Jerry Bearden said the building had been reduced to its outer rock wall. County records and documents would ordinarily have been inside, but had already been moved as the building was under renovation.

  • Mason County Courthouse Fire
  • Photo from drone of Mason County Courthouse fire damage (Courtesy: Texas State Fire Marshal's Office)
  • Photo from drone of Mason County Courthouse fire damage (Courtesy: Texas State Fire Marshal's Office)
  • Photo from drone of Mason County Courthouse fire damage (Courtesy: Texas State Fire Marshal's Office)

A home about 1.2 miles away was also set aflame at the same time that night. Authorities said they believe the incidents are connected and started by Miller.

The courthouse, built in 1909, was beloved by Mason County residents, said Judge Bearden.

“What we have left are 110-year-old walls,” he said. “It’s a terrible tragedy for people in the county. This is my 19th year being in office here, and I’ve been through floods and fires, but I’ve never had anything with a gut punch that I’ve had with this.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to raise funds to rebuild the courthouse. As of Monday evening, it had raised more than $2,000.

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