HUNTSVILLE, Ala – News 19 is continuing to follow the investigation into a series of fires set at businesses in the Huntsville area over the weekend. A joint investigation is being conducted between several agencies including the Huntsville and Madison Police departments and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
24-year-old Nicholas Tremaine Hubbert has been named as the sole suspect. He has been charged with first-degree arson for intentionally damaging the property of Plato’s Closet by starting or maintaining a fire or causing an explosion when another person was present in the building at the time.
The fires were set at businesses across Madison County spanning a 17-mile area, in less than three hours’ time.
News 19 has been working to learn more about the suspect. And as we continue to dig into his background, a picture of a young man battling mental illness has emerged.
Last year, one of Nicholas Hubbert’s family members petitioned the court in Madison County for an involuntary commitment to the custody of the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
According to court filings, the family member says this would ensure Hubbert would be able to continue to receive psychiatric treatment and to protect himself as well as the community.
The filing states Hubbert began acting, “totally out of character of himself when he stopped taking prescribed medications for a previously diagnosed mental condition”.
Court documents outline multiple non-violent encounters with law enforcement that occurred during a relatively short period of time.
Those encounters include being arrested after walking along an interstate near Tuscaloosa and not providing a name to authorities.
The family member also told the court they were contacted by the Secret Service after Hubbert reportedly tried to enter the White House in Washington D.C. He was arrested later, in Washington D.C. for indecent exposure after allegedly taking off his clothes in public.
After he got out of jail, court documents say he traveled to California and reportedly nearly drowned after swimming out into the ocean before being rescued by lifeguards.
Following a hearing in Madison County last year, a judge ordered the commitment for a period not to extend 150 days.
Hubbert was booked into the Madison County Jail Saturday night.
Tuesday ordered that he not be granted bond saying, “Based on the extreme indifference to the value of human life the court finds that there is no bond sufficient to ensure the safety of the community should the defendant be released.”
A judge has set a felon exam for October 20th to determine whether the court needs to appoint Hubbert an attorney.
The Madison Police Department and Madison County Sheriff’s Office have indicated they plan to charge the suspect as well.