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Woman Explains Smiling Mugshot After Arson Arrest

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - A woman says she was looking for relief when she broke in and set fire to a yoga studio.

The door to American Power Yoga was boarded up Monday, but the manager tells us the damage is minimal, and they are moving forward with regularly scheduled classes. Suzanne Duarte admits she's responsible for the damage, and she wants people to know why she did it.

"Most people can't understand the smiling mugshot," Duarte said through glass at a visitation room in the Dallas County Jail.

Nancy Duarte Mug
(Courtesy: Dallas FIre & Resucue)

It's a strange expression for someone who's just been arrested for trying to burn down the yoga studio where she practiced, but Nancy Duarte, who goes by Suzanne, says she smiled in her mugshot because she's trying to let go of her anger, which is why she went to American Power Yoga Saturday carrying a baseball bat and a can of gasoline.

"I thought it was going to make me happy... to burn the place that had brought me so much pain and suffering," Duarte said.

Duarte has longstanding disputes with two men associated with the yoga studio.

"He kept hitting on me and kept trying to make me the girlfriend on the side," Duarte claimed about one of the men.

She says both men continued to harass her for years in and out of the studio.

"Even as I'm walking out the door, he kept trying to put his hands on me, and I was like, 'No!'" Duarte said.

On Saturday, Duarte says she waited until it was late so no one would be at the studio.

"Just to set it on fire, just destroy it, get rid of the devil's temple," Duarte said.

She insists she had no intention of hurting anyone, but firefighters had to evacuate nearby businesses Saturday. Brad Dickinson was downstairs at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre waiting for a comedy show to begin.

"She was taking matches and lighting them and tossing them," Dickinson said.

Despite what Duarte says she intended, Dickinson points out the entire shopping center could have gone up in flames.

"That would have ended a 35-year run of the Pocket Sandwich Theatre at least for awhile," Dickinson said.

Nonetheless, Duarte says the only regret she has is that the studio didn't burn.

A spokesperson for American Power Yoga says the studio has been under new ownership since November, and until Saturday they were unaware of any dispute.

Duarte is being held on a $16,000 bond. She says if she gets out, she will not try to burn down the studio again.

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