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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Nashville Woman Is Second To Face Federal Arson Charges In Connection With Metro Courthouse Fire

Fire Set During May 30th Protest

NASHVILLE, Tenn.August 4, 2020 - A criminal complaint unsealed today charged Shelby Ligons, 22, of Nashville Tennessee, with malicious destruction of property using fire or explosives, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

Wesley Somers, 25, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, was previously charged on June 3, 2020, and his case is pending in U.S. District Court. 

The criminal complaint alleges that on the afternoon of May 30, 2020, 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 Nashville City Hall, also known as 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 this 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.

Ligons was arrested this morning by FBI agents and will make an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later this afternoon.

If convicted, Ligons faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison.

This case is being investigated by the FBI; the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department; and the Nashville Fire Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Schrader and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.                    

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Contact: 
David Boling Public Information Officer 615-736-5956 david.boling2@usdoj.gov
Updated August 4, 2020