A disgruntled Fred’s Dollar Store employee has been charged with causing a catastrophe and aggravated assault in connection with the May 19 fire that destroyed the Dermott store.
Authorities initially believed the cause of the fire was electrical in nature but upon further investigation it appeared to have been intentionally set.
Jeremy Ray Lewis, a 26-year-old Dermott resident and store employee, was subsequently questioned and arrested.
Tenth Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen charged Lewis with causing a catastrophe, a form of arson which carries a possible life sentence. He is also charged with aggravated assault meaning he is alleged to have caused a substantial risk of death or injury to the individuals in the occupied building. Aggravated assault carries a maximum 6-year-sentence.
Deen, a former Dermott resident, said Fred’s Dollar Store was the only place in Dermott where residents could purchase dry goods. The store was a total loss. “I certainly hope they rebuild,” Deen said.