A Galesburg man is facing felony arson charges following his arrest this week.
33-year-old Roberto Rodriguez Jr. made a video appearance in Knox County Circuit Court on Tuesday where he faces three felony counts of arson, the most severe being an aggravated arson for knowing that people were present in the home. Judge James Standard set bail at $50,000 and appointed the public defender’s office to represent him.
The charges stem from a Monday night disturbance. At around 8:48, officers were dispatched to the 600-block of East South Street where a caller stated that Rodriguez had turned the knobs of a gas stove on and released natural gas into the residence.
According to a Galesburg police report, officers were informed by residents that Rodriguez was living in the basement of the home and that he did not light any of the burners when he turned the knobs. Also, officers were informed that two infant children were in the home at the time the incident occurred. Both children were under the age of three.
Rodriguez allegedly told police that he was trying to burn the house down and kill himself. When asked if he was aware of the children being in the home, he allegedly told police that he was.
Galesburg police were later informed that Ameren workers found charred materials sitting on top of the basement water heater. When asked, Rodriguez allegedly admitted to starting the fire after having turned the knobs on the stove.
He was transported to OSF St. Mary Medical Center for an evaluation then taken to the Knox County Jail.
He will be back in court on December 31st for a preliminary hearing.