ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An Albuquerque man arrested following an arson fire inside an Old Navy store in November 2016 has pleaded guilty in that incident and a string of others involving fires and acts of vandalism.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that David A. Hickman, 28, entered the plea this week to five arson counts but acknowledged in his plea agreement to igniting fires at a total of nine businesses last November.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the plea agreement includes a recommendation that Hickman be sentenced to a prison term of five to 20 years. His sentencing has yet to be scheduled.
“A series of arsons in Albuquerque almost a year ago not only endangered the lives of firefighters and other innocent people, but also jeopardized the paychecks of numerous hard-working employees at the damaged businesses,” Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque division said in a statement.
Hickman has been in federal custody since his arrest.
He was taken into custody near the Old Navy store after a police officer responding to a report of small explosions saw him running in and out of the store, which was on fire.
Hickman was found wearing a holster with a handgun and had a flare in his belt. In his vehicle, officers found an assault rifle, glass jar devices, tape, ammunition, kerosene, an explosive material called tannerite and motor oil. They also found similar materials, including firecrackers, inside his residence while executing a search warrant.
The plea agreement does not offer any details as to Hickman’s motive but it describes in detail his actions, starting with the incident at the Old Navy where he admitted to using an assault rifle to shatter the windows of the store.
Wearing dark clothes and a mask, he said in the court document that he had a handgun and several devices he had made in order to start the fire. The devices consisted of glass jars filled with flammable liquid. Rope taped to the jars acted as a handle.
The other locations Hickman admitted to damaging included a condominium and retail business complex that was under construction, four Starbucks Coffee shops, a Barnes and Noble store and a document shredding business. In most cases, Hickman said in the plea agreement that he shot the windows to gain access to the businesses.
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