Dickinson Trinity High School principal accused in fire

2014-03-05T12:32:00Z 2014-03-05T14:32:32Z Dickinson Trinity High School principal accused in fireBy JENNY MICHAEL | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

The charges against Dickinson’s Trinity High School principal say he endangered the life of a person in a second-floor apartment by starting the school on fire early Monday morning.

Thomas Joseph Sander, 30, was charged Wednesday with arson and endangerment by fire, both Class B felonies. Southwest District Judge Dann Greenwood set bond for Sander at $500,000 cash. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for April 21.

Sander, who was hired as principal of the Catholic high school in July, was arrested Tuesday after interviews with law enforcement.

The Dickinson Fire Department responded to a call for a fire at the school at 1:15 a.m. Monday. The fire was under control by 3 a.m. The front of the school, which opened in 1961, suffered the most damage, with structural damage in the library above the office. The rest of the school had significant smoke damage.

According to court documents, Sander is accused of starting the fire and knowing there was someone in a second-floor apartment when he did so.

The arson charge says he “started a fire in the vault portion of the administrative office area of Trinity High School, by setting fire to the contents of a file cabinet inside said vault.

The endangerment by fire charges accuses Sander of setting “a fire in a vault in the administrative office at Trinity High School when he knew there was a resident in the second-floor apartments of the building.” The charge does not identify the person who was in the apartment, but Monsignor Patrick Schumacher on Wednesday identified the person as religion teacher Robert Storey.

Court documents do not indicate anything about the evidence in the case or reveal any information about motive. Schumacher said Wednesday morning in a meeting with students and parents that Sander had told staff on Feb. 10 that he would not be returning to the school next year. Schumacher did not say whether that was the school’s or Sander’s decision.


Reach Jenny Michael at 701-250-8225 or jenny.michael@bismarcktribune.com.

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