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Man tries to set Valparaiso resale shop ablaze, throws guitar through window, police say
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Man tries to set Valparaiso resale shop ablaze, throws guitar through window, police say

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Valparaiso Fire Department ambulance in this file photo.

VALPARAISO — A man tried to set a Valparaiso resale shop ablaze and was arrested in a cemetery shortly after, police said. 

Matthew Puskac, 37, of Valparaiso, faces charges of arson and criminal mischief, according to the Valparaiso Police Department. 

At 6:26 a.m. Friday police were called to assist with a fire at New Creation's Resale Shop at 1202 Calumet Ave., said Valparaiso police Sgt. E.J. Hall. 

See a day in the life of Michigan City Police Officer Brian Wright in the latest Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops installment.

An employee arriving to work had smelled smoke. A pair of shoes and paper had been found with signs of them being set on fire and thrown through a glass window, police said. A guitar was also found that had been thrown into the building. 

Police investigated the area further and found a cloth medical mask had been put in the diesel gas tank of a truck parked nearby. The mask also showed signs of being lit with an open propane tank emanating gas. 

Staff members identified the owner of the guitar as allegedly belonging to Puskac, who lives nearby. Video surveillance footage showed that Puskac was in the area with the guitar before the firefighters and police arrived, according to police reports. 

Authorities found Puskac at 11:15 a.m. by Maplewood Cemetery, which spans the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Penna Hill Drive. A passerby had reported him to police as someone sleeping in the cemetery. 

Puskac allegedly admitted to police that he had started the fires at the resale shop and he was arrested. He remains at Porter County Jail awaiting his initial court hearing. There were no injuries reported in the fire and the damage to the business was minor, Hall said. 

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts and investigative news. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology. 219-933-4194, anna.ortiz@nwi.com

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