Suspect Accused of Intentionally Starting Fire That Killed San Antonio Firefighter

Bexar County Jail
The San Antonio Police Department has arrested a man suspected of igniting the fire at the Ingram Square shopping complex that left one firefighter dead.

Emond Johnson, 39, owned the Spartan Box Gym, one of the businesses torched by the flames in the May 18 fire. But according to San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, Johnson confessed to starting the fire in his business on purpose. SAPD investigation reports obtained by KSAT allege Johnson may have started the fire in an attempt to ease financial constraints. Johnson was allegedly late on rent for the gym, and the fire effectively terminated that lease, according to the report.

The 4-alarm fire killed firefighter Scott Deem and injured two other firefighters. Deem allegedly died inside the gym.

"Ironically, the person that [firefighters] went in to rescue looks like the person that committed that fire," Hood said in a Wednesday press conference. "That's something that doesn’t happen very often. It does cause some anger within our organization."

Johnson was arrested on one charge of murder by arson, two charges of arson causing bodily injury, and two charges of arson to a building. According to Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood, Johnson likely faces life in prison. Johnson also faces an unrelated domestic violence charge.

On the day of the fire, KENS5 interviewed Johnson about his business burning down. "My heart goes out to those firefighters that are out here trying to salvage our businesses, and I pray for them,” Johnson told a reporter at the time.

"I hope this will follow [Johnson] throughout the rest of his life," Hood said. "He killed an extremely fine young man with a beautiful family that will never be the same."
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