Joshua Hughes

Joshua Hughes (Courtesy photo)

Police say a 25-year-old man tried to burn down the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Love Library North on Wednesday morning.

Joshua Hughes, 2039 Q St., is suspected of lighting three books on fire at 2:17 a.m., UNL Assistant Police Chief Charlotte Evans said.

The library closed at 11 p.m., but Hughes, upset with UNL medical staff, stayed inside, according to court documents.

Police said Hughes called 911 because he couldn't find an exit after the fire started.

Evans did not know which books burned, but he said the fire did not spread to anything else and the library was not damaged.

Police found Hughes in the basement of Love Library South, and, during a search, found a lighter in his pocket.

After he was arrested, Hughes asked to talk to former President George W. Bush, saying he wanted his favorite president to know he was in trouble.

Police took Hughes to the Lancaster County jail.

Prosecutor Nicholas Freeman said he was charged Wednesday afternoon with first-degree arson because he knew there were people in the library. The felony carries a possible prison sentence of one to 50 years.

Lancaster County Judge Mary Doyle appointed the Public Defender's Office to represent Hughes after he said he doesn't know how much money he has or if he owns any property.

She set his bond at 10 percent of $25,000, ordered him to stay away from the UNL campus and set his preliminary hearing for June 15.

Freeman asked Hughes if he understood the charges against him and the penalties if he's found guilty.

"I believe so," Hughes responded.

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Reach Jonathan Edwards at 402-473-7395 or jedwards@journalstar.com.