Man convicted in 2019 Wausau arson case to be sentenced Friday

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 11:13 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The man convicted of burning down a Wausau laundromat and flower shop in April 2019 causing more than $1 million in damage is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

Azeez Hakeem, 33, of Wausau, pleaded guilty to his most serious counts of arson and burglary in August.

The fire destroyed Rainbow Laundry and Blossoms and Bows. Both businesses were located near 2nd Ave. S and Clark Street on Wausau’s west side.

Officers responded to the fire just after 3:30 a.m. on April 9. The owner of Rainbow Laundry advised officers that Hakeem was a person of interest in the fire.

A short time later an officer recognized Hakeem walking around the neighborhood near the laundromat. After some questioning, Hakeem admitted to the officer that he started the fire.

Hakeem said he had been working and living at the laundromat. He said he and the owner had a disagreement on April 8 and the owner terminated the relationship. Hakeem was told to take his possessions and leave. Hakeem told the officer he lit his possessions on fire because he did not know what else to do with them.

It is believed the fire was started on the south end of the building. Hakeem asked the officer why firefighters were spraying water on the north side of the building when he started the fire on the south side, the officer told him the fire had spread.

Hakeem was placed in a squad car. An officer recovered a torch lighter from his pocket. Hakeem said it was the lighter he used to start the fire.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

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