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Expelled student charged with arson and harassment

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An 18-year-old expelled Liberty Technology Magnet High School student is facing charges in a Jan.16 fire at the school and threatening school administrators, according to a Wednesday afternoon news release from the Jackson Police Department.

Malik Batchelor, who was being held in Madison County Jail Wednesday, is facing one count of aggravated arson and three counts of harassment, the release said. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Jackson City Court, via video link, at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The release said on Jan. 16, the Jackson Fire Department responded to a fire in the boys’ locker room inside the school, located at 3470 Ridgecrest Road Extended, around 7 p.m. The gym was occupied at the time and one person tried to put the fire out until the Jackson Fire Department arrived. The person had to be transported to a local hospital for smoke inhalation.

Fire officials determined the fire was set deliberately. The police department was contacted by the fire officials for further investigation into the incident.

The next day, on Jan. 17, a man, claiming responsibility for starting the fire, called the school. The man also made threatening comments toward a school administrator.

The release said the man made similar threats to the same administrator the following day on Jan.18.

Six days later, on Jan. 23, the man called the school again, but threatened a different school administrator.

Working with Liberty school officials, investigators identified Batchelor as the person who set the fire and made the threats. On Jan. 23, investigators signed an arrest warrant for Batchelor. Police had been searching for him since the signing of the warrant.

Batchelor had previously been expelled from school for an unrelated matter. according to Liberty officials.

The release said Batchelor was arrested around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday on Daugherty Street, in Jackson, by the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Jackson Police Department's Street Crimes Unit. The task force is made up of Deputy U.S. Marshals and investigators from the Jackson Police Department's Gang Unit and Jackson-Madison County Metro Narcotics Unit.