Man accused of setting fire outside fast food restaurant charged with arson

Police arrested a man Tuesday who they say tried to burn down a Carl's Jr. restaurant in Salt Lake City after he was denied free food.

Police arrested a man Tuesday who they say tried to burn down a Carl's Jr. restaurant in Salt Lake City after he was denied free food. (Kyle Spencer)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors are requesting that a man who police say set two separate fires outside a fast food restaurant and threatened to kill employees after they wouldn't give him free food be held without bail.

Thomas John Lingle, 65, was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony; retaliation against a witness, a third-degree felony; reckless burning, a class A misdemeanor; and making a threat of violence, a class B misdemeanor.

Monday night, Lingle went into a Carl's Jr., 1654 S. Redwood Road, and asked for free food, police said.

"When that was denied, Lingle threatened to kill the employees and postured as if he was going to hit (an employee)," according to charging documents.

On Tuesday, Lingle returned to the restaurant about 4:50 p.m. and again asked for free food and then asked for a manager.

"He was yelling at employees and told to leave," the charges state.

Lingle left the restaurant. But a short time later, employees could smell smoke outside.

Two employees walked out of the Carl's Jr. and "saw smoke coming from the building," and "saw Lingle standing over the fire, adding materials to the fire, and telling them, 'I'm going to make you suffer,'" according to the charges.

Investigators say Lingle used a cigarette lighter to ignite "cardboard, wood, plastic and other combustibles he had placed against the building." They observed "the stucco coating had been burned away and the exterior wall sheathing was cracked" in two areas, and smoke damage extended to about waist-level on the building, the charges state.

Police say Lingle then walked across a nearby parking lot and set a second fire, igniting cardboard "underneath the rear bumper of a FedEx delivery truck."

After Lingle was arrested and was being transported to the Salt Lake County Jail, he saw the two employees and "shouted, 'I'm gonna come back and ... kill you,'" according to the charges.

According to prosecutors, Lingle has several pending court cases, including one in which "he has twice been released from custody and not appeared in court." He was charged in February with trespassing in a Salt Lake City business where he threw snow blowers, according to charging documents. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on June 1 in that case on a warrant after failing to show up for a court appearance, according to court records. He was released on June 3 before being arrested on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have requested that Lingle this time be held without the possibility of posting bail or being released prior to his trial.

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Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and is the evening breaking news reporter for
Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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