BEDFORD, Va. – Authorities say they have a suspect in custody in connection with the fire at the old Bedford Middle School building on Jan. 23.
Daniel Jared Flint, 21, of Bedford, is facing one burglary charge and one arson charge. He was placed under arrest for both charges on Wednesday.
Someone submitted a tip to authorities that they recognized the back of Flint’s head as he was riding his bike, which led to officers following up on the tip.
Flint confessed to the crime in a statement, according to police.
Search warrants say Flint admitted to his mother he set fire to the old middle school. Flint’s mother told parole and probation, stating she believes her son is dangerous. Investigators showed Flint’s mother the suspect picture they released after the crime. She identified her son and said she was most certain it was him from behind.
Officials say Flint is a former student at Bedford Middle School.
Warrants say Flint agreed to speak with police and said he set the school on fire because he hated the building and wanted it to burn. He said the shoes he wore while setting fire to the school are at his apartment.
Investigators looked for: flammable materials, incendiary devises, writings, lists or documentation consisting of plans to set structure fires, clothes, shoes, gloves, lighting devices, masks, glasses, protective eye wear and backpacks consistent with Flint’s description or apparel. Officers collected tennis shoes, black hoodie with red stitching, PS3, PS4 and handwritten note.
Flint was arrested on Friday on a probation violation for a separate crime. Local law enforcement officials said they are “familiar” with Flint but did not elaborate on the probation or any previous offenses.
According to online court records, this is not Flint’s first arson charge. Flint has had several charges in Bedford General District and Circuit Court.
Flint was arrested in 2016 for shooting at a house and cars, including one driven by a local reporter. Bedford County deputies say Flint also started a fire behind a house near a propane tank.
Authorities believe Flint operated alone and say they know how he got into the building but aren’t releasing those details yet.
Flint is being held at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.
Officials applauded local firefighters’ work in putting out the fire and preserving parts of the building, including pieces of evidence.