There is an underlying controversy brewing in regards to Saturday night’s fire in downtown Princeton.
A pet store is heavily damaged and some animals died in the blaze on South Main Street. But instead of everyone coming together after the tragedy, there is unrest regarding an arrest.
While controlling the crowd, Princeton Police Chief Tom Kammerer says 50-year-old James Boekeloo of Hennepin refused to comply with orders on more than one occasion to stay away from the burning building. Boekeloo is accused of twice pushing an officer before he was taken to the ground and arrested. Chief Kammerer says while Boekeloo’s efforts are noble, they were extremely dangerous. The chief did agree to lower obstructing justice and aggravated battery charges against Boekeloo from felony to misdemeanor. Kammerer says he realizes Boekeloo was trying to rescue animals but that doesn’t excuse his actions towards police officers and firefighters working to save the business.
Boekeloo is out of custody on bond. His sister owns the pet store that caught fire. Investigators say at one point Sunday a supporter of Boekeloo called a dispatcher and threatened to burn down buildings in Princeton and riot. There was a peaceful protest outside the Bureau County Courthouse in support of the Hennepin man.