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Columbia man charged after allegedly setting mattress on fire

Nicholas Gerken
Boone County Sheriff's Office
Nicholas Gerken


A Columbia man was charged Thursday with first-degree arson after he allegedly set a mattress on fire in a hallway at the Rise Apartments on Aug. 27.

Nicholas Gerken, 34, is being held at the Boone County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

According to court documents, Gerken allegedly took a discarded mattress from the alley behind the Rise Apartments in Downtown Columbia and placed it in a small hallway. The mattress was placed near a bike storage room near the parking area of the building, the document states.

Gerken allegedly set the mattress on fire and watched the response from the Columbia Fire Department from the top story of a parking garage at Tenth and Cherry streets, according to the probable cause statement.

There were about 378 people in the building, the statement says. The fire allegedly caused damage to the bike storage door, as well as the ceiling and walls of the building.

Police identified Gerken from surveillance video provided by the apartment complex, the statement says. Officers who previously arrested him were able to identify him, and said he was wearing the same hat and sunglasses at the time of the previous arrest, according to the probable cause statement.

Gerken was charged with a pair of second-degree property damage charges – both misdemeanors -- on Sept. 3. A confined docket hearing is scheduled in that case for 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21 at the Boone County Courthouse. A $3,000 bond was set for those charges.

He is also facing a 2022 charge of possession of a controlled substance. A warrant was issued in that case for failing to abide a judge’s order and a $5,000 bond was set.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Ryan Shiner


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