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Scottsbluff man charged in hotel fire

Scottsbluff man charged in hotel fire

Juan Olvera

Juan Olvera

In his first remarks on the supermarket shooting in Boulder, Colorado that killed ten people Monday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to move quickly to toughen the country's gun laws, calling on lawmakers to act to close the loopholes in the background check system and ban assault weapon and high-capacity magazines.

Documents filed in Scotts Bluff County Court reveal more details about the case of a Scottsbluff man accused in a hotel fire last week.

Juan Olvera, 40, of Scottsbluff, has been charged with first-degree arson, a Class II felony. Olvera appeared for the first time in court on Monday and is scheduled to next appear on April 1.

Scottsbluff hotel closed after fire uncovers violations

Olvera had been arrested in the early morning hours of March 19. Scottsbluff firefighters and firefighters with other departments were called to the America’s Best Value Inn, 1901 21st Ave., at about 2:30 a.m. One room at the hotel had suffered damages in a fire, which Scottsbluff Fire Marshal Anthony Murphy determined to be an “incendiary fire,” or one that had been intentionally set.

The fire had occurred in Olvera’s room, and officers arriving on the scene observed him coming down an extension ladder from the room. The officer asked Olvera what had happened and he allegedly told police “he had set the fire because he had a hit out for him,” a Scottsbluff Police officer said in an arrest affidavit.

Firefighters indicated the room had been locked from the inside. No one else was in the room. The fire marshal reported locating evidence of at least one accelerant, according to the affidavit.

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The fire also lead to the closure of the hotel with Scottsbluff Fire Department revoking its certificate of occupancy as firefighters discovered padlocked fire exits and other life and safety issues at the hotel. Owner Kuldip “Cheema” Singh told the Star-Herald that the padlocked doors were in unused portions of the hotel and denied any violations of life and safety standards.

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