Tennessee Man Faces Federal Arson Charge in Connection to Metro Courthouse Fire, Three Others Arrested

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A Tennessee man was charged Wednesday with malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives for his involvement in Saturday’s riots outside the Nashville City Hall.

According to a criminal complaint, 25-year-old Wesley Somers of Hendersonville, Tennessee was depicted in numerous video clips posted to social media attempting to smash windows of the Nashville City Hall, also known as the Metro Courthouse. One photograph depicted Somers holding an unknown accelerant, which had been set on fire, and placing the accelerant through the window of the Courthouse.

Authorities identified Somers as the shirtless man wearing beige cargo shorts in the video below. In some clips, Somers’ chest tattoos of the words “Wild Child” and “Hard 2 Love” are visible.

 

The criminal complaint alleges that on the afternoon of May 30 protesters gathered in downtown Nashville following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Later in the evening, a number of persons gathered in front of the Metro Courthouse. Using various tools, including crowbars and other objects, they began smashing the windows of the premises and spraying graffiti on the Courthouse facade. One or more fires were also set inside of the Courthouse at that time.

“We will always vigorously defend the right of every individual to assemble and protest,” U.S. Attorney Don Cochran said in a press release. “This is one of our most sacred liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment of our Constitution. We will also vigorously pursue those who choose to exploit such assemblies and use violence and intimidation in order to change the dynamics of an otherwise peaceful protest.”

The Metro Nashville Police Department’s Specialized Investigation Division identified Somers after receiving numerous tips and arrested him on arson charges on May 31. If convicted, Somers faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison.

The department then announced Wednesday evening that it had arrested 26-year-old Jesse Lee Clark on charges of aggravated arson, felony vandalism, and disorderly conduct during Saturday’s attack on the Metro Courthouse. He is accused of breaking windows and helping co-defendant Somers ignite materials.

On Monday, authorities arrested 23-year-old Tondrique Fitzgerald, a convicted felon, on charges of aggravated rioting and felony vandalism for his involvement in the riots.

Vincent Hamer, 18, was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated rioting and felony vandalism. Video and still images show Hamer using objects to break at least two windows at the Historic Courthouse, authorities said.

“The Department of Justice will vindicate the First Amendment rights of all Americans to speak, assemble and seek a redress of grievances from their government,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “We cannot tolerate, however, those who would take advantage of moments of real anguish to endanger the innocent and destroy their property.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Thoughts to “Tennessee Man Faces Federal Arson Charge in Connection to Metro Courthouse Fire, Three Others Arrested”

  1. Robert

    Sentence him to five years in the county jail with duty of cleaning the courthouse daily.

  2. Karen Bracken

    Oh their mommas must be so proud of their sons!! I hope whatever they were paid to act like animals was worth it. LOCK EM UP!!

  3. Julie

    None of these people look like they will be missed by society by spending some time in jail There is a difference between protesting and rioting, vandalism, and looting.

  4. rick

    This was all about George Floyd, right! What a psycho!!

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