Hagerstown man faces arson, burglary charges

November 25, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown man was charged with second-degree arson, first-degree burglary and other crimes Tuesday in connection with two break-ins and a fire that was intentionally set in a local law office, police said Tuesday.

During the burglaries at the law office of criminal and bankruptcy attorney Edward N. Button, a number of items, including ornamental Samurai swords, were taken before the office was set on fire, Washington County District Court documents show.

Brian Beemer, 26, of 145 E. Franklin St., was being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $200,000 bond, a deputy there said Tuesday afternoon.

Hagerstown firefighters responded to the fire at 20 E. Washington St. Monday at about 9 p.m. The fire was set in a fifth-floor office space occupied by Button.


While Beemer has a criminal record, he was not one of Button's clients, the attorney said Tuesday afternoon. Button can't recall speaking with Beemer, he said.

"I'm not sure why he ended up there, quite frankly," Button said.

Beemer has first-degree burglary convictions, second-degree burglary convictions, drug possession convictions and arson convictions, Assistant State's Attorney Leon Debes said Tuesday during a bond review before Washington County District Judge Mark Thomas, who continued Beemer's $200,000 bond and ordered him to have no contact with Button.

"This is obviously a very dangerous man," Debes said.

The fire in Button's office was intentionally set in a desk drawer, Hagerstown Fire Marshal Douglas DeHaven determined.

Hagerstown Police Officer Carroll Braun wrote in charging documents that when he heard a fire alarm at the Grand Building at 20 W. Washington St., he saw a man later identified as Beemer running from the back of the building. Beemer told police he heard the alarm and went in through the back door to see if he could do anything, district court documents show. At the scene, DeHaven also found a cell phone that police believe belonged to Beemer.

Button told investigators that a Civil War sword, a Jim Bowie-style knife, another sword, three ornamental Samurai swords, a Civil War saber and a piece of art made of automobile parts were taken from his office.

Beemer took officers to his home, where they found the swords and knives that had been in Button's office, police alleged. Investigators also found a calendar with an Ed Button advertisement on it in Beemer's bedroom, police said.

With police present, Beemer told his father he set the office on fire Monday, a day after breaking into Button's office, district court documents allege.

Beemer later told police he was in Button's office Friday and saw the swords, that he broke into the office Sunday night and took about $200, and then again on Monday, when he took the swords off the wall and lit the fire in a drawer, police alleged in court documents.

Beemer told police he did not know why he set the fire but said it was stupid, court documents allege.

The swords were gifts from past clients, said Button, who has an interest in swords.

Button on Tuesday said the fire and sprinkler system did major damage to his files. He said he planned to start sorting through the files today to see what's salvageable, but said he would be able to represent all his clients. He has about 150 cases at any one time, Button said.

"I've never been faced with anything like this," he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles