- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2020

BRENTWOOD, N.H. (AP) - A man has been held without bail on a charge of setting fire to a New Hampshire middle school, and police believe he paddled a canoe from Maine with a propane tank and a bucket of flammable liquid, authorities said.

Christoph Berger, 24, was arraigned Tuesday, accused of arson, burglary, criminal mischief, aggravated driving while intoxicated, disobeying an officer, and other charges stemming from events in Portsmouth, Newington and Rye on May 22-23.

The Portsmouth Herald reports Berger’s lawyer said Berger was struggling with mental health issues at the time. Not guilty pleas were entered for him. The judge found Berger to be a danger to himself and others and ordered his preventative detention until he can be transferred to a secure psychiatric facility.

Berger was arrested Monday and identified by Portsmouth police as the person who started a fire at the middle school, causing about $100,000 in damage. Berger is accused of smashing a front glass door, placing the propane tank inside, dousing it with a flammable liquid, and setting it on fire.

Police Chief Robert Merner said Berger is believed to have paddled a canoe from Kittery, Maine, with the items.



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