On November 9, 2023, at 1:13 a.m., Coffee County Communications Center notified the Tullahoma Fire Department of a smoke alarm activation at 131 Silver Street (East Gate Apartments) via an emergency page. Dispatch information further stated that an apartment door had been set on fire. Based on this information, Tullahoma Police and Coffee County EMS were dispatched to the scene as well. The incident was treated as a structure fire response.
Upon arrival, it was determined that the bulk of the fire had been extinguished by the tenant before escaping the apartment. Suppression crews made entry into the structure, checked for fire extension, and eliminated any remaining hot spots.
Following the termination of suppression efforts, on-duty fire investigator Engineer Josh Nelms began the preliminary fire cause and origin investigation. After interviewing the tenant of the affected apartment and discussing the circumstances surrounding the fire event with TPD, Engineer Nelms had the Tullahoma Fire Marshal notified and dispatched to the scene.
Upon arrival Fire Marshal Nick Kimbro, along with TPD Sgt. Kennedy Cpl. Weaver, and Ptrl. Officer Medley interviewed the tenant and witnesses and reviewed security camera footage.
Based on evidence collected at the scene, witness statements, and the security camera footage, this fire was ruled as incendiary (intentionally set). Kimbro collected evidence samples at the scene and then sent them to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime lab for forensic micro-analysis.
Tullahoma Police Investigator Jason Maloney was notified that the incident had led to a criminal investigation. A suspect in the incident was identified as 37 year-old David Michael Stallings Jr. Warrants were issued for the arrest of Stallings.
In the coming days, both Investigator Maloney and Kimbro received several leads as to the whereabouts of Stallings. All leads were followed up on.
Late last week, through tips and assistance from federal counterparts with the U.S. Marshals Service, it was discovered that Stallings had made his way to the Sewanee / Monteagle area. Photographs of Stallings obtained by Kimbro and Investigator Maloney were distributed in the area. A citizen recognizing Stallings notified the Sewanee Police Department, who apprehended him at the St Mary’s Retreat. Stallings was transported back to Coffee Couty Jail and is being held on five felony charges, including three counts of aggravated arson, as the tenant and her children were in residence at the time of the fire event.
On behalf Tullahoma Fire Department, Fire Marshal Kimbro would like to commend and thank Tullahoma Police Investigator Jason Maloney for leading the criminal investigation; the Tullahoma Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, The US Marshals Service Sewanee Police Department, and all other entities and individuals for their tireless efforts and involvement in bringing this suspect into custody.
*This is an ongoing criminal investigation. All information in this media release is subject to amendment pending any new information obtained.