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KCSD, Fire Marshal investigate flag burning at Patriot’s Corner

Knox County police and Rural/Metro Fire Department were dispatched to the parking lot of David’s Carpets in the Patriot’s Corner shopping center in response to a fire early Saturday morning.

On arrival, KCSD officer April Harnett reported that an unknown suspect had taken down the American flag in front of the business and set it on fire.

Mark Sells, a fire investigator with the Knox County Fire Marshals’ Office, said he “hadn’t seen anything like this in the last couple of years.”

David’s Carpets owner David Hayes said as a crew from The Williams Company raised an older flag, “It really makes me mad. We replace the flag every four to six months. We had just taken it down Thursday.”

Hayes said that since the crime had been reported on local TV and radio stations the public response had been strong.

“We’ve had people come by and donate money to replace the flag,” Hayes said. “We’re going to take the money and make up packages to send to our troops in Iraq.”

David’s Carpets store manager Alan Ellison said, “The investigating officer said that she had just been through the parking lot ten minutes before the call came in.”

Investigators believe that the 25-by-40-foot flag, valued at $4,000, had been taken down from the staff, doused with an accelerant and set ablaze.

Steve Williams, owner of Patriot’s Corner, said in a e-mail: “I feel this is a direct affront to the military and/or the election results, since nothing else was damaged or touched. This is one of the largest American flags in East Tennessee.

“I would like to offer a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the guilty party.”

Lisa Bisese, a Concord resident who had driven by as the older American flag was being raised above the business Monday afternoon, said, as many others have, that she wanted to come by and say she was “sorry it happened” and to offer her support.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Department and the Knox County Fire Marshal’s Office are continuing their investigation.

Anyone having information about this event may contact Williams at 865-531-6100 extension 204, or Hayes at 865-777-0661 extension 19.


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