A Thief River Falls man was sentenced this week to five years of supervised probation for intentionally setting an apartment fire.

Rowa Frederick Sherer Jr., 32, was convicted Monday, March 23, of arson in the first degree. He received 50 months in state prison, which were stayed for the duration of his five-year probation. He also was ordered to pay $3,086 in restitution in addition to court fees.

Sherer faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

According to court documents, a resident on the 500 block of Ninth Street West in Thief River Falls awoke to the sound of a fire alarm shortly after 1 a.m. Dec. 10, 2019. She opened her front door and saw the Christmas decoration outside a neighboring apartment on fire. She banged on the neighbor's door, then she and the apartment's single resident went to the building lobby to wait for first responders, according to the complaint.

The apartment complex manager allowed law enforcement to review security footage, which showed a man walking through the building, stopping to light the Christmas decoration on fire and leaving, according to the complaint. Law enforcement later identified the suspect as Sherer.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

In a Dec. 17 interview with law enforcement, Sherer admitted he was the one on the security footage and told investigators he remembered stopping in the apartment building to warm up, but that he didn't remember starting the fire. He also said that he had taken Ambien, which has caused him to forget things in the past, according to the complaint. The complaint also noted that, in the interview, Sherer expressed remorse and asked if everyone was OK.