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Camera catches downtown Columbia arson, suspect arrested

Several privately-owned surveillance cameras helped police arrest a man suspected of an alleyway arson.

The Boone County Prosecutor’s Office charged 25-year-old Jeffrey Springmeyer of first-degree arson and resisting arrest Sunday. Springmeyer is currently in the Boone County Jail, held on a $25,000 bond.

Columbia firefighters put out the fire in the alleyway on Eighth Street by the Missouri Press Association building around 10:30 on August 17. MPA Executive Director Doug Crews said the fire melted two paper recycling bins, and damaged the gas meters and pipes for the nearby buildings. Police say they needed to shut off the gas to the buildings because of leaks caused by the fire.

However, Crews installed a video camera at the end of the alleyway a year ago to try and catch people committing crimes there.

“Through the years, we’ve had a number of cases of graffiti,” Crews said. “We’ve had people up on top of our building at night. So we thought it was time to get cameras.”

Columbia police said the footage showed someone trying to get in through the door at the end of the alley. After trying the locked door, the person opens a bin filled with newspaper, lights it and leaves.

“Saw the person on the footage, saw the fire department show up, saw the whole thing,” Crews said of the footage.

The probable cause statement said Springmeyer’s name came up in the course of investigation throughout the week. Surveillance footage from other businesses in the area showed Springmeyer in the area around the same time. Police received a call Saturday night around 10:30 from someone at a nearby business to the alley, saying Springmeyer had returned to that business. Officers then found Springmeyer downtown and arrested him.

While CPD owns eight surveillance cameras downtown, the nearest cameras monitor the intersection of Cherry and Ninth Streets. In June, Sergeant Chad Gooch teamed with the Downtown Community Improvement District to figure out which businesses and apartment buildings owned surveillance cameras.

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