Lakewood apartment fire: Teen arson suspect Jalen Berg could face 14 counts of attempted murder

Judge sets bond at $500,000

LAKEWOOD, Colo. - Prosecutors want a 19-year-old charged with multiple counts of attempted murder in connection with a fire at a Lakewood apartment complex on Friday.

In court Monday, a judge set Jalen Berg's bond at $500,000. Conditions of the bond include monitored sobriety.

Victims of the fire were granted a protective order, which requires Berg to stay away from the SunPointe at Lakewood Estates Condominiums.

Prosecutors said Monday they want Berg to face 14 counts of attempted murder.  Berg could also face charges of first-degree arson, child abuse, felony criminal mischief and felony menacing.

The fire that started on the third floor of the apartment complex Friday night damaged at least four units.

Berg and his father, James, live with their girlfriends in apartment 305. According to two arrest affidavits, the younger Berg and his girlfriend, Stacy Rule, were both burned and cut after jumping through a window to escape the fire.

In the hospital, Jalen Berg spoke to a Lakewood officer.

Berg explained that a verbal and physical argument with his father began because he was not able to pick his father up from work.

The document says Jalen Berg told the officer that, "James (Berg) threw Stacy against a wall which enraged Jalen. Jalen picked up a baseball bat and swung it at James. James also grabbed a baseball bat and swung it at Jalen."

After Jalen landed a few blows to his father's back, the two were "separated by their respective girlfriends."

On the next page of the description of that interview, Jalen Berg tells the officer his father had threatened to "tear up" Rule's artwork. The couple returned to the apartment and Jalen Berg picked up what he described as a "sword."

"I had a sword in my hand and was ready for whatever my dad had," Berg told the officer.

Berg's father told another officer his son threatened him and said "he was afraid of Jalen because of his size and the fact that he had a knife."

That interview with Berg's father is contained in a second affidavit, one that states there is probable cause to arrest the son on the attempted murder, arson, child abuse and felony criminal mischief charges.

Interestingly, James Berg and his girlfriend told officers the events unfolded in a different order.

They both said the father and son were arguing over use of a car, but James Berg and his girlfriend said the confrontation with the knife followed immediately afterward.

"Jalen was yelling and came at James holding the knife above his head," James Berg's girlfriend told officers, before explaining she was able to get the knife away from him.

It was after this point that James Berg said his son hit him multiple times with an aluminum baseball bat.

The affidavit says that when Jalen Berg and his girlfriend left the apartment, they took the title for his father's vehicle. When they returned, they found Rule's artwork had been moved to the trunk of the car. The son and the father argued again, but eventually the artwork was given back.

The fire, James Berg said, started while he and his girlfriend were out purchasing new locks to keep the younger couple out of the apartment.

In another interview detailed in the second affidavit, Rule told the investigator that she'd seen Jalen Berg throw something at a clothes dryer before the hallway erupted in fire. She said she was trying to put out the fire when she told Jalen Berg to break a window so they could escape.

Jalen Berg denied throwing something at the dryer, but said he smelled something rotten and saw a smoking dryer sheet in the laundry closet. He went on to accuse his father of being a drug dealer and keeping metal containers of denatured alcohol in the apartment.

Jalen Berg says he was going to do laundry when he saw the smoke. A big explosion followed, he said, which propelled him across the hall.

A West Metro Fire arson investigator told police he'd found apparent pour patterns made by an accelerant and several possible starting points for the fire.

Officers tried to question Jalen Berg about the inconsistencies between the various stories. When officers asked for more information about the fire, "he became defensive and ultimately stood up and told me he wanted an attorney and might as well go kill himself," an investigator wrote in the affidavit.

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