CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – An Iron County, Missouri, man appeared in federal court Tuesday and admitted starting fires in the Mark Twain National Forest and threatening a federal officer.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said Lucas Henson, 37, pleaded guilty to arson, assault of a law enforcement officer, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

On Oct. 22, 2022, Henson, who was out on bond for stealing and drug-related offenses, stole a van from a Poplar Bluff business. He abandoned the van after it ran out of gas. He later broke into a camper at another local business and stole items from the RV.

Henson told the court that on the following day, he stole a Dodge pickup truck, burglarized someone’s home, and stole a handgun. He also stole a crossbow from a workshop near the home.

Henson pointed the stolen gun at the owner of the pickup before fleeing in the truck. Police were notified of the crimes, and pursued Henson until he crashed the vehicle in Mark Twain National Forest.

Prosecutors say Henson started three fires in Wayne and Butler counties, damaging between seven and eight acres of the forest. He tossed the gun and other stolen items into one of the fires. He started one of the fires to avoid being caught by police dogs.

Henson later pointed a crossbow at a Forest Service officer and other law enforcement while fleeing across the Black River.

Authorities had to utilize what’s known as “dozer lines” to contain the fires.

Henson is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28. He faces up to 20 years on the assault charge, between seven and 20 years for arson, and up to 15 years on the gun charge. Each charge also carries a fine up to $250,000.