22-Year-Old Man Pleads Guilty To Starting East Ridge Apartment Fire

Tuesday, July 08, 2014 - by Hollie Webb
Thomas Shirley
Thomas Shirley

A 22-year-old man was sentenced to 11 years in prison Tuesday morning after pleading guilty to starting an East Ridge apartment fire in 2013.

Thomas Benson Shirley was charged with attempted aggravated arson, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment after police said he started a fire in front of Emma Gohr's front door at Spring Creek Gardens.

Prosecutor Jason Demastus said, "Officers did not find evidence of accidental causes."

According to police, he had formerly lived with his caregiver across the hall from Ms. Gohr. The night of the incident, his caregiver described him as looking as if he were on drugs.

The woman told him he could not stay. 

East Ridge Police said after the fire, Shirley stole a vehicle from the apartment parking lot. He was found after he crashed the car into a building near Standifer Gap Road and Shallowford Road.

He was arrested at Erlanger Hospital. 

During a hearing, defense attorney Brandy Spurgin requested his move to prison be expedited because of problems he had in the Hamilton County Jail.

Shirley said, "They said once I get sentenced they're going to beat me up again." 

Shirley has been in custody for 18 months.


Many Waldens Ridge Scenes Featured In Stokes Picture Book

A number of early views of Waldens Ridge are among the rarities found in the Stokes Photo Collection. There are many photos of the roads up the mountain showing streetcars, wagons and early autos. There are scenes at Rainbow Lake, Falling Water Falls, Signal Point and other scenic spots. Several photos are included of the Signal Mountain Hotel. The more than 700 photos ... (click for more)

Man Shot At Apartments On Tunnel Boulevard Wednesday Afternoon Dies; 2 Juveniles Shot At Rec Center On Oakwood Drive With Suspects In Custody

A 24-year-old man who was shot at the apartment buildings at 404 Tunnel Blvd. on Wednesday at 1:21 p.m. has died. He was identified as Kenny Breylon Hall. Residents said they heard multiple shots fired.  Witnesses said they saw multiple suspects fleeing the scene on foot behind the complex.  Later Wednesday, two people were shot at the Washington Hills Recreation ... (click for more)

Chairs Cost How Much?

Many times while growing up, I would go to the store with my parents. More often than not, I would see something I wanted, and ask my parents to buy it for me. More often than not, they said no. “Why?” I asked. “Son, money doesn’t grow on trees.” That’s a phrase I’m sure many of us have heard more than once over the course of our lives. However, I have since learned that they were ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Dear Friend Luther

One sunny morning in June years ago, the renowned radio icon Luther Masingill was on his way back to the WDEF studios on South Broad Street when he stopped for a red light and noticed a young couple in a car idling next to his familiar light blue Ford pickup. “What caught my eye was a buck-toothed boy eating a banana in the back seat,” he explained in an aside to that day’s lunchtime ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Falls In State Volleyball Semis

SMYRNA, Tenn. – It’s a good thing that Signal Mountain volleyball coach Jennifer Redman is a young lady because her heart might not be able to stand the pressure if she wasn’t. Redman’s Lady Eagles were thisclose to being sent to the loser’s bracket in the opening round of the State Volleyball Tournament here at Stewarts Creek High School Wednesday afternoon. Had it been a ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Sweeps Loretto To Open Class A State Volleyball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Playing what coach Alfie Dodd called a sub-par match, Boyd-Buchanan’s Lady Bucs were still good enough to sweep Loretto, 3-0, Wednesday morning in the opening match of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class A state volleyball tournament at Blackman High School. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-20. “We advance and we know we can ... (click for more)