Family: Suspect in adult store arson has mental illness

A photo of Mitchell Hapner courtesy the Allure Salon Professionals website.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of the suspect who allegedly admitted to setting the fire that destroyed an adult store in Kalamazoo said he had been suffering from mental illness.

Mitchell Hapner, 41, is expected to be formally charged on Friday.

Authorities at the scene of a fire at Hollywood Nights in Kalamazoo. (Feb. 18, 2015)
(Authorities at the scene of a fire at Hollywood Nights in Kalamazoo)

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said Hapner told investigators he was trying to eradicate porn when he set a fire at Hollywood Nights on S. Westnedge near Whites Road late Wednesday afternoon.

Hapner’s family said they had been trying to get him the help he needed, but were met with several roadblocks.

They sent the following statement Friday morning:

“We were saddened to learn that Mitch was responsible for the arson at Hollywood Nights, but the news did not surprise us.  He has suffered from mental illness for many years, and we have tried everything in our power to get him the help he so desperately needs. Just this week, before this incident, we had made attempts to get his concerning behavior addressed. We have been met with roadblock after roadblock in trying to help him. Our mental health system is this country is broken. We deeply regret that our community was affected by Mitch’s actions and extend our sincerest apologies to everyone involved. Please respect our privacy as we navigate this difficult time.”

Hapner has one previous conviction, which was for a misdemeanor assault in 1991.

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