An arrest in a string of suspicious fires in the Mayerthorpe area has left the local fire chief with a sense of betrayal.
The 19-year-old suspect is a junior firefighter and son of the former mayor. Fire chief Randy Schroeder tells Global News they didn’t see this coming. “I try not to take it personally. I’m struggling like any of our members with questions of why and how, what did we miss.” Schroeder says the Grade 12 student appeared headed toward a lifelong career as a firefighter. “He was on five of the scenes as an active firefighter…and at least four as a bystander. You didn’t see it coming.” The arrest was made following an investigation into a fire at an industrial site in Mayerthorpe Friday.
Lawson Michael Schalm, is charged with 18 counts of arson, including a fire that destroyed an historic trestle bridge two weeks ago. Former mayor Albert Schalm tells Global News he was shocked to learn that his 19-year-old son, Lawson, was arrested and charged with 18 counts of arson, including the blaze at the CN trestle bridge. The former mayor said his son had not been exhibiting any unusual behaviour recently. Schalm said the family will not waver in their support for the 19-year-old. “We love him dearly and support him in whatever direction this will go in the future.” He has not spoken to Lawson since the arrest but plans to be present at his first court appearance.
Schalm will appear in court on Wednesday.