Steven Shaffer, owner of Shaffer's European Bakery in Collegedale, was arrested Friday on charges of setting his own business ablaze, according to the detective who investigated the case.
Detective Kat Cooper of the Collegedale Police Department had been investigating Shaffer since the Valentine's Day fire. At the time, Shaffer said he had gone back into work that day to check on the bakery. He said two men broke in, assaulted him with a box cutter and set the bakery on fire.
Cooper said she conducted a "lengthy, careful" investigation and that a number of red flags popped up.
"There was enough physical evidence surrounding the incident that I was able to develop enough probable cause for warrants to be signed," Cooper said.
Cooper said Shaffer was indicted Thursday on charges of arson and filing a false police report, and the arrest was made by the Collegedale Police Department on Friday afternoon. She said Shaffer was taken to the Hamilton County Jail, but there was no record of his booking as of Friday evening.
A previous Times Free Press story said Shaffer, a senior at Southern Adventist University and originally from Transylvania, started cooking bread because he missed the food of his homeland. Prior to opening the bakery, Shaffer sold bread out of his dorm room and at local markets.
After the arson, Collegedale residents rallied around Shaffer, with several assisting in cleanup efforts. A GoFundMe page was created to raise $15,000-$40,000 for repairs. Within a month, 37 people donated $3,777 for the cause.
David Barto, one of the Collegedale residents who helped Shaffer's cleanup effort after the arson, said Friday that he was surprised to receive the news while hosting a dinner party at his house.
"I don't know enough about what happened yet, but I have a lot of faith in Kat Cooper as a policewoman," Barto said. "Whatever happened will come out in court. If it turns out to be true, I'll be disappointed."
In an emailed statement, Southern Adventist University said it "is reviewing senior Steven Shaffer's enrollment status with the university. We have confidence in the judicial process and will take appropriate action, if needed, as more information becomes available."
Collegedale City Manager Ted Rogers said Friday that he couldn't comment on Shaffer's arrest.
Contact staff writer Will Healey at email@example.com or 423-757-6731.
Original report from the fire: