The man charged with arson at one Masonic hall and suspected of doing the same at two others may have boasted of the spree on Facebook.
Benjamin Orion Carlson Kohlman, 42, is accused by the Vancouver Police of arson, assault of a peace officer and failing to stop for a peace officer at the Park Lodge on Rupert Street.
Crown counsel has not yet approved charges related to the fires that damaged the Lynn Valley Lodge and destroyed the North Vancouver Masonic Temple.
Philip Tarrant, who lives across the street from the Lynn Valley Lodge, said there were sounds of someone knocking down a door around 6:30 a.m. A van fled the scene after a person had thrown something into the building. Tarrant said he tried to battle the blaze with his fire extinguisher until North Vancouver District fire crews arrived.
Just before 7 a.m., North Vancouver RCMP received reports of a fire at the Duke of Connaught Lodge No. 64, also known as the North Vancouver Masonic Temple, on Lonsdale near 12th. Firefighters from West Vancouver were called to assist their city and district cohorts.
Then, a third fire, around 7:30 a.m., at the Park Lodge. A person across the street recorded scenes of a man with a jerry can walking away from a blaze at the doorway. An undercover police officer appeared on the scene and drew his gun, but did not shoot. The man fled in a van.
At 8:07 a.m., a Facebook account for Ben Kohlman published a message stating: “I just cleaned 3 satanic club houses and nobody could do anything.”
Police arrested Kohlman later near North Fraser Way and Marine Way in Burnaby.
The Facebook page for a Ben Kohlman is rife with postings about flat earth, anti-vaccine, anti-mask and anti-freemason conspiracy theories.
Kohlman is scheduled to appear in Provincial Court April 6.
“The Freemason fraternity is a worldwide brotherhood of friendship and brotherly love and for this to happen is totally, totally shocking,” said Tom Anstruther, secretary of the Lynn Valley Lodge. “It’s very sad.”
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