Chattanooga: Woman arrested for trying to burn down local church

Chattanooga: Woman arrested for trying to burn down local church

February 19th, 2009 by Staff Report in Local - Breaking News

A woman whom officials say is part of group of traveling gospel singers was arrested Wednesday in connection with trying to burn down a local church.

The incident occurred Feb. 11 around 10 p.m. at the Harmony Baptist Church at 3832 Youngstown Road, according to Bruce Garner with the Chattanooga Fire Department.

He said a church service had been held earlier that night, but everyone was supposedly gone and the church was locked up.

Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to the church when an automated alarm in the church was activated.

Mr. Garner said the church officials were summoned and when the firefighters got inside, they quickly noticed the smell of propane and that it was very hot, though there was no fire.

"As they made their way into the Fellowship Hall, they found the source of the heat in the kitchen," Mr. Garner said. "Ten burners on a large, commercial stove were all on full blast. A roll of paper towels was also placed very close to one of the eyes, though it had not caught on fire yet. The intense heat from the 10 burners activated the combination smoke and heat detector in the kitchen, which is what alerted the fire department. There was no damage to the building."

A subsequent investigation by Capt. Lesley Morgan with the Fire Investigation Division led to a couple of traveling gospel singers, who had performed there that night.

Tammy Cooper Davidson, 29, and her husband, Jeff Davidson, travel around region, performing at churches, fast food restaurants and other small venues. Ms. Cooper described herself as her husband's booking agent.

Capt. Morgan interviewed the husband and wife separately, and eventually learned that Ms. Cooper was very upset with the pastor of the church. Ms. Cooper denied any wrongdoing.

After a weeklong investigation, Ms. Cooper was charged with attempted arson and transported to the Hamilton County Jail for booking around 6 p.m. Wednesday

Capt. James Whitmire and Lt. Henry McElvain and Lt. Anthony Moore also assisted with the investigation, Mr.Garner said.