The second person to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from the May 30, 2020 Nashville Metro Courthouse fire will be sentenced on January 18, 2021. The first was Shelby Ligons, 22, of Nashville.
On May 31, 2020 Metro Nashville Police Department announced that Wesley Somers, aged 26, of Hendersonville, had been arrested “on charges of felony arson, vandalism, & disorderly conduct for setting fire to Nashville’s Historic Courthouse”. Somers was identified by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department – Specialized Investigation Division after receiving numerous tips from citizens who had seen videos from the incident.
Wesley Somers is the first person arrested in connection with the May 30 Nashville Courthouse fire and, after the case was moved to federal jurisdiction, is the second to plead guilty to a federal charge.
The Clerk’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee confirmed to The Tennessee Star that Mr. Somers is set to be sentenced on January 18th, 2022 at 3:30pm. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger is presiding. According to the Department of Justice, Mr. Somers faces a “mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison.”
Shelby Ligons, 22, of Nashville was the second person to plead guilty to a federal charge. She was sentenced to 12 months and one day for the charge of Malicious Destruction of Property Using Fire or Explosives, the same charge that Mr. Somers pled guilty to. Other conditions include 3 years of supervised release upon the completion of the term of imprisonment, restitution in the amount of $500, and a fee of $100. The Department of Justice had previously stated, “If convicted, Ligons faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison.”
The DOJ noted that the original criminal complaint alleged that on the afternoon of May 30, 2020, protesters congregated in downtown Nashville following the death of George Floyd. Later that night, people gathered in front of the Nashville Metro Courthouse. They began spraying graffiti on the outside of the courthouse and also used crowbars and other various objects to break the windows. “One or more fires were also set inside of the Courthouse at this time.”
The DOJ also stated at the time:
Numerous video clips and photographs of the destruction at City Hall were posted on social media websites, on the websites for news outlets, and on other Internet sites. Ligons is depicted in video clips and photographs from that afternoon and evening wearing blue jeans, a black-colored shirt, a medical mask, and a white-colored bandana on her head. In those video clips and photographs, Ligons is depicted holding a white-colored poster board with the words “F–k The Police” and “We Will Not Be Silent” written on it. In several video clips, Ligons is depicted setting fire to the poster and placing it inside a window located on the exterior structure of City Hall.
It is unclear if Mr. Somers’ sentencing will be influenced by Mr. Ligons’ sentencing.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Wesley Somers” by Metro Nashville PD.