Press Releases

Governor Offers $20,000 Reward for Information on Decatur Co. Arson

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 23, 2012: 

Oak Hill Bar fire killed fire chief and seriously injured two firefighters

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Decatur County Fire Chief Kenny Fox.

“I encourage anyone who knows anything about this case to contact local authorities immediately, and I hope this reward leads to justice for Chief Fox’s family,” Haslam said.

On April 7, Fox was killed and two firefighters, Jeremy and Randy Inman, were injured while battling a blaze at the Oak Hill Bar in Parsons. Investigators later determined that the fire was an act of arson, which makes Fox’s death a Class A felony of first degree murder.

Hansel McCadams, District Attorney General for the 24th Judicial District, and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Investigation Unit request that anyone with information about the fire call the arson hotline at 1-800-762-3017.

Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Feds Charge Texan for Bomb Threat to Murfreesboro Mosque

A Texas man has been indicted for threatening to bomb a planned Muslim community center in Murfreesboro.

Law enforcement say Javier Alan Correa, 24, of Corpus Christi, called the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on Sept. 5, 2011, and said there was a bomb in the building that would explode on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

He has been charged with intentionally obstructing a free exercise of religion by threat of force and with using an instrument of interstate commerce to threaten to destroy a building with explosives, said Jerry Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Although Correa has not been taken into custody, the U.S. Attorney’s office is in communication with his legal counsel to discuss surrender, Martin said.

If convicted, Correa faces up to 20 years in prison.

The mosque’s approval in 2010 sparked protests and a lawsuit, even as construction has moved forward at the site southeast of Murfreesboro. A judge earlier this month ruled that the public notice for a meeting to approve the construction plans was inadequate, which has put in limbo plans to have a first section of the building open in time for Ramadan at the end of July.

Federal investigators are also still looking into an incident of arson at the site in 2010.

“These despicable acts are not only illegal, but are also completely contrary to our American way of life,” Martin said. “So let there be no question. If you interfere with anyone’s constitutionally guaranteed right to worship and assemble, you will face federal prosecution and severe penalties.”

In Nov. 2010, the Department of Justice also filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in relation to the ongoing lawsuit, in which plaintiffs had asserted that Islam is not a legitimate religion.


$20K Reward for Mosque-Site Arson Arrest

Federal law enforcement agents are offering $20,000 for information that leads them to solving a case of vandalism at the construction site of a proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center in Rutherford County.

On Aug. 28 a fire was set to construction equipment at the site of a future Islamic Center of Murfreesboro worship house and community hall south of Murfreesboro. The case has garnered widespread media attention.

“We are bringing all our resources to bear to make sure this case gets into federal court so justice can be served,” Steven Gerido, an assistant special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said during a press conference at the mosque construction site Friday.

He called the case “high profile,” but stopped short of labeling it a “hate crime.”

“We don’t feed into all of the different circumstances surrounding the event itself,” Gerido added.

The FBI and BATFE have confirmed the act was, as has already been widely reported, a case of arson. Laboratory tests for the use of fire “accelerants” at the site returned positive, agents said.

“The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, ATF and FBI are continuing to investigate and no further information regarding the ongoing investigation can be provided at this time,” Gerido said.

Cami Ayash, spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has in the past called the incident a “shameful crime…instigated by the hate campaign that our Muslim community has been subjected to recently.”

“Somebody knows something, and hopefully this is an incentive to get someone to step forward,” she said.

On Friday Ayash elaborated on mosque leaders’ thinking on events of the past few weeks and months. Had they the chance to plan the development and initiate construction on their new facilities all over again, they probably would not have done so at the height of an election season, she said.

“All of this started because of bad timing on our part,” said Ayesh. “A lot of people were running their campaigns off of ‘terrorist training camps’ and things like that. Unfortunately, when you have people that plant that initial seed, then you have those who want to take it and run with it, and take the law into their own hands.”

“I really don’t think there is anything politically motivating whoever did this,” Ayash added.