Arrest made in death of firefighter Scott Deem

Emond Javor Johnson charged with murder, arson

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio police have made an arrest in the death of firefighter Scott Deem.

Emond Javor Johnson, 39, was arrested and has been charged with murder and arson.

READ MORE: SAFD employees to tour charred building where firefighter died, 2 others injured

Deem was killed in May while responding to a four-alarm fire at the Ingram Square Shopping Complex.

"I talked to Scott Deem’s captain and he cried. I was in my boss’s office and I broke down, so there is not a member of this organization that has not shed a tear because of the culmination of this," Fire Chief Charles Hood said. "But with those tears comes some anger because this was human caused it makes it a lot different for us."

According to an arrest affidavit, investigators determined that the fire started in a rear storage room in the Spartan Box Gym. They also determined that the fire could not have started anywhere else.

The investigation also determined that there were no electrical issues and the complex has passed a city inspection, the affidavit stated.

What we know so far about murder suspect Emond Johnson

Johnson was the owner of Spartan Box. He told investigators at 8:54 p.m. he locked the gym from the front door, minutes before the fire began, but video showed a person matching his stature walking away from the rear of the gym. The affidavit also said there was a brief, bright flash captured on camera.

At the time of the fire, Johnson was $6,800 behind on rent and had several other debts, totaling thousands of dollars.

The court document also highlights other inconsistencies, including, that his business was the only one in the complex without its rear back door secured from the inside by a metal bar.

Related: Images show aftermath at Ingram Square 1 month after fatal fire

In his final interview with investigators on Wednesday, Johnson said someone had spilled a large container filled with oil and gas, which flowed toward the rear double-doors of the gym, the affidavit said. He admitted it was him on the video and that he used a disposable lighter to start the fire. The affidavit also said, Johnson told investigators he wanted to get out of his lease and he has been receiving eviction notices.

"The first thing I take away is that I've got some badass firefighters that risk everything to save their loved ones," Hood said. "As I mentioned before they continued to pour into that building to save one of their own. There is no doubt about the courage and physical abilities, the strength, the resiliency of this organization."

Deem was a six-year veteran of the department.

Two other firefighters were injured that night.

Robert Vasquez entered SAFD on Dec. 23, 2006. He is assigned to AP11 "A" Shift on the Technical Rescue Team. Robert suffered non-life threatening injuries and has been discharged and is at home and recovering.

Brad Phipps entered SAFD on April 18, 2006.  He is assigned to Engine 35 "C" Shift. Brad sustained serious burn injuries. He was released from the hopsital months later and is still recovering from his injuries.


Images show aftermath at Ingram Square 1 month after fatal fire

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