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Lincoln man pleads no contest to arson for fire at EZ Go on night of protests
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Lincoln man pleads no contest to arson for fire at EZ Go on night of protests

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This photo of a suspect in the EZ Go arson attempt was posted on the Lincoln Crime Stoppers website.

A 28-year-old Lincoln man is set for sentencing after entering a plea Monday to starting a fire at the EZ Go the night protests over George Floyd's killing by police in Minneapolis sparked looting near 27th and O streets in Lincoln.

Tyler Maple pleaded no contest to second-degree arson at a hearing by Zoom. 

Prosecutors reduced the charge from first-degree arson in exchange for his plea and his agreement to pay $2,110.83 in restitution. 

Tyler Maple

Tyler Maple

Chief Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Bruce Prenda said Maple turned himself in after police released a photo, taken from the convenience store's surveillance video, of him inside the store, taking a lighter out of his pocket and lighting trash on the floor on fire before walking out just before 3 a.m. May 30.

The fire burned for about 5 minutes before a demonstrator outside the store saw it, went in and opened a case of water and used a fire extinguisher to put it out.

Prenda said the total damage to the EZ Go, including lost products, added up to $71,000. 

"That amount was not due to this fire solely. Glass windows and doors had all been broken out prior, and the store was being looted from approximately 2:40 a.m. to 3:12 a.m.," he said.

Maple could get up to four years of imprisonment and two years of supervised release at his sentencing in February. 

Damage estimate dropped, but May-June riots still said to cost millions

In 2013, Maple went to prison for 20 to 36 months for setting fires in Fremont. He pleaded no contest to two counts of felony arson and two other charges were dropped in exchange.

Prosecutors said that case involved four arsons on Aug. 6, 2013, including the burning of a Salvation Army bus, a small shed and a car.

Maple was on supervised release on a meth conviction out of Dodge County at the time of the May 30 fire.

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