RACINE, WI – Two people were charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office with arson after they set the COP House on fire during a riot.

The incident took place early Monday morning after a confrontation with the Racine Police Department.

Justin Hernandez, 25, of Kenosha, and Kylie Gelmi, 20, of Mount Pleasant, were both charged with arson of a building without owner’s consent and burglary-building or dwelling. Both charges carry a modifier of being a party to a crime. If convicted, Hernandez and Gelmi both face up to 52 years, six months in prison and/or fines up to $125,000.

Several protesters set the COP House on Villa Street on fire early Monday morning.

The Racine County District Attorney’s Office also charged Gelmi with felony bail jumping.

Details about COP House fire

Several protesters set the COP House on Villa Street on fire early Monday morning.

According to the criminal complaint, police were called to investigate a fire on Monday at the Thelma Orr Community Policing House (COP), 1146 Villa St.

The Racine Community Outpost owns the COP House and rents it to the Racine Police Department and Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The first-floor intake room had extensive damage near the west rear door. An investigator with the Racine Fire Department reported evidence of “charring that was consistent with an incendiary event related to a liquid fire accelerant.”

Investigators found videos of the incident on a social media site. They saw Hernandez at the back of the building. He said, “On the boss, just lit that (expletive) on fire, (expletive) the police,” “We done burnt this (expletive) down (racial slur), (expletive) these (racial slur).

A group of protesters started the COP Hous, 1146 Villa Street on fire during a riot early Monday morning. PHOTO BY Scott Anderson Credit: Scott Anderson

“On the boss, let that (expletive) burn!”

During an interview with investigators, Hernandez told police he set the fire on the outside the home and tried to start a second fire on the back porch. When officers searched his cell phone, they found a video of a woman placing “an item on a fire’ inside the house, then running out the door.

Gelmi told police she was at the COP House during the arson and placed something on the fire.

Multiple people were seen in and on the front and back porch when the fire was started.

Next steps

Racine County Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch set a cash bond of $10,000 for Hernandez and Gelmi. Rudebusch set a preliminary hearing for 8:45 a.m. July 1 for Gelmi and Hernandez at the Racine County Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Avenue.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.