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Police link attempted murder charges to fires

Lyndon Greybear

FARGO -- A Fort Totten, N.D., man accused of assaulting two children, setting fire to the apartment where they slept and then starting a nearby apartment on fire Sunday told police he did it because he "needed the attention," court documents show.

Lyndon Galen Greybear, 29, was arraigned Tuesday in Cass County District Court on two counts each of attempted murder and aggravated assault and one count of endangering by fire or explosion.

Bail was set at $100,000, cash only.

Police believe Greybear assaulted the children and started a fire in the bedroom where they were sleeping at 3301 16th Ave. S., then left that apartment and started a fire on a door at an apartment building a block away at 3331 15th Ave. S., according to a police summary filed with the charges.

The children, ages 4 and 6, had bruises and blood on their bodies, the summary states.

According to the police reports:

Greybear had been babysitting his cousin's two children at the 16th Avenue apartment. A neighbor reported a disturbance about 9:30 p.m., telling police he could hear banging and yelling next door.

The building manager unlocked the apartment door for police. An officer smelled something burning inside and pushed open the door, breaking the chain lock, which was latched from the inside.

Inside the apartment unit, black smoke billowed from an open bedroom door, and screams could be heard coming from inside the room. The officer found two children lying on an air mattress within a few feet of the fire, which the officer put out with a fire extinguisher.

At about the same time, another officer was responding to the 15th Avenue apartment for a report of a welfare check and a commercial fire.

When the officer arrived, he saw about 15 people standing outside the building and a pile of smoldering clothes lying next to the north apartment door. The entryway was hazy with smoke, and a man was holding by the arms a shirtless male, later identified as Greybear.

The report states that Greybear walked toward the officer, screaming hysterically "Take me to jail, I started the fire."

Greybear told the officer he started the fire because he "needed the attention," the report states. Greybear said he took off his yellow T-shirt and green T-shirt and wrapped the shirts around a door knob and lit them on fire using the two lighters the officer found in his pants pocket during a search, the report states.

When the officer asked Greybear if he was concerned the building might burn down with people inside, he responded, "that's why I lit the fire," the report states. Greybear said he'd been drinking all night and that everyone in the 15th Avenue apartment was crazy, though he later told the officer he didn't know anyone in the building, the report states.

The children were taken by ambulance to Essentia Health for treatment of their injuries. Their mother was arrested on an unrelated warrant and taken to jail.

Greybear informed the court that he planned to retain an attorney. It was unclear if he'd done so by Tuesday afternoon.