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Akeley man charged with attempted murder

Brandon Sannan

An Akeley man has been arraigned on numerous attempted murder charges stemming from a failed romance and reconciliation.

Brian Todd Sannan, 22, is charged with deliberately setting fire to the home on Chickamaw Beach he used to occupy with a former girlfriend and her child during the early morning hours of Jan. 8.

Cass County Attorney Chris Strandlie said when Sannan tried to torch the family home just after midnight, two adults and seven children were in the Norway Lake home at the time.

All escaped the blaze but the home was a total loss.

"It's a new one for us, that's for sure," Strandlie said. "She had recently terminated their relationship and, judging from the content of the text messages, he wasn't on board with that.

"It's not clear if he knew how many people were there (at the time of the fire) but he knew that there were lights on and probably people there and he had lived there until the beginning of December," Strandlie said.

"Fortunately nobody was injured in this one," Strandlie said. "It's really kind of bizarre. Almost reminds you of a movie. He was texting, one after the other after the other after the other. Most of it was, 'Please take me back, take me back, take me back.' No real indication he'd do something like this."

Sannan faces nine separate counts of Attempted Murder in the First Degree and one count of First Degree Arson.

The Attempted Murder charges carry a sentence of not more than 20 years in jail. The arson count is punishable by a maximum of 20 years and/or a $20,000 fine upon conviction.

According to the criminal complaint, strange things began happening at the family home shortly after Sannan moved in.

Tires were slashed on family members' vehicles and engines had been tampered with.

The girlfriend had several cell phones "mysteriously broken" during their co-habitation, the complaint states. When the couple moved briefly to Backus, the events followed them.

"While renting that home, other mysterious damages had occurred to her motor vehicle," the complaint states. But no damage occurred at her parents' residence during that time.

The woman broke up with Sannan Jan. 3. He began sending hundreds of text messages daily in an attempt to get the woman to come back to him.

She refused.

On the night of the fire, Sannan allegedly took a gas can from an icehouse where he'd been fishing that day.

The next day when Sannan and a friend went ice fishing again, the icehouse owner noted Sannan reeked of gasoline.

In a subsequent interrogation, Sannan allegedly admitted lighting his ex-girlfriend's parents' home on fire after pouring gasoline on their deck. When the fire appeared to be burning itself out, he then lit a wicker chair on the deck.

Bail was set at $1 million unconditional and $900,000 with conditions.

Sannan's next appearance is set for Jan. 17 in Cass County District Court.

Strandlie said the rejection and stalking behavior happened so quickly, the woman hadn't had time to file for a protection order.

"They'd been together for eight months and she indicated he'd never been physically threatening in any way," the prosecutor said.

Later on the morning of the fire, Sannan allegedly sent a text message to the woman "apologizing for what he'd done."

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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