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Mequon man charged, accused of setting fire to Motel 6 in Glendale

Edward Callison

MILWAUKEE — A 73-year-old Mequon man is now charged in connection with the arson of the Motel 6 in Glendale. The accused is Edward Callison — and he is charged with the following criminal counts:

  • Arson of building
  • First degree recklessly endangering safety

According to the criminal complaint, police and North Shore Fire and Rescue was dispatched to the Motel 6 on N. Port Washington Road on the morning of Dec. 17, 2019. Officers determined the fire was in a maintenance closet on the third floor. At the time of the fire, the hotel had 39 registered guests. There were also staff in the building. Everyone managed to escape safely.

Fire at Motel 6 on Port Washington Road in Glendale

The complaint indicates officers “suspected the general manager of the Motel 6, Edward Callison,” to be the person who started the fire. Their suspicions appeared to be verified when reviewing surveillance video at the motel — as well as a nearby Walgreens. The complaint reads as follows:

“Officers reviewed the security video from the Motel 6 which shows the defendant at 10:10 a.m. on the 3rd floor entering the maintenance closet. At 10:14 a.m., the defendant exits the maintenance closet and at 10:38 a.m., the defendant leaves the Motel 6, enters his vehicle, and drives out of the lot. At 10:39 a.m., the defendant enters the Walgreens located at 5400 North Port Washington Road, which is across the street from the Motel 6. The defendant enters the store, selects a “Bic” lighter, flicks the lighter, and then purchases the lighter. At 10:40 a.m., the defendant exits the Walgreens.

“At 10:46 a.m., the defendant returns to the Motel 6. At 10:47 a.m., the defendant is seen walking into the office with the Motel 6 security video equipment. Surveillance video shows that the video is working at the time the defendant walks in. At 10:48 a.m., the Motel 6 surveillance video stops working. At 10:59 a.m., the Motel 6 security video resumes recording and there is visible smoke on the 3rd floor, the defendant is inside the manager’s office.”

When questioned by police, the complaint said Callison “denied purchasing a lighter.” But Walgreens later provided a receipt showing “the purchase of the lighter with the defendant’s credit card.”

Fire at Motel 6 on Port Washington Road in Glendale

The complaint indicates there had been a dispute between Callison and the owner of the Motel 6 “regarding replacing the fire doors at the Motel 6.” The owner of the motel said Callison “threatened him on the phone a month prior.”

When police questioned an assistant manager at the Motel 6, that person reported “when the fire alarm sounded, the defendant immediately told everyone it was a false alarm and the defendant tried to turn the alarm off. After the fire was extinguished, (the assistant manager) heard the defendant on the phone saying something to the effect of, ‘I bet they gonna have to get it done now,’ which (the assistant manager) believed was in regards to the fire door project.”

The North Shore Fire Marshall determined the cause of the fire to be arson.

Callison made his initial appearance in court on Wednesday, Jan. 8. He is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 24.

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