SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A judge has refused to lower the $1.2 million bond for a man accused of intentionally starting a fire that left a San Antonio firefighter dead in May of 2017.
Emond Johnson is charged with five counts, including murder and arson, in a 4-alarm blaze that destroyed his Spartan Box Gym and quickly spread to other businesses at Ingram Square Shopping Center. Investigators say Johnson’s motive was money. He was behind on the rent for the gym and had a pile of debts.
Firefighter Scott Deem died while battling the blaze that also critically injured firefighter Brad Phipps. Phipps has undergone numerous surgeries.
Assistant District Attorney Emily Angulo successfully argued that Johnson, who was 39-years-old at the time of the fatal fire, would be a flight risk. During the hearing, she told Magistrate Court Judge Andrew Carruthers that Johnson doesn’t follow the rules. She noted that Johnson and other inmates tried to flood a cell at the Bexar County Jail, and that he defied a detention guard’s orders. Reading from a report, she quoted Johnson as saying ,” I don’t give a f**k about the rules. I don’t follow the F*****g rules. That’s why I’m here.”
Angulo also revealed that an offense report has been filed against Emonds concerning an incident in September of 2017 when he allegedly tried to strangle a woman he was living with.
“There is an unindicted matter. An offense report was filed with our office that is currently under review,” Angulo told reporters.
Emond’s brother testified that if he would be willing to take him in and and help him find a job, but Judge Carruthers wasn’t swayed. After listening to testimony and hearing arguments, he decided to keep Johnson’s bond as is.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood and other firefighters also were in the courtroom for the bond hearing. He told reporters the judge’s decision was bittersweet.
“We’re happy about this outcome. We understand that this will be a long event to where we’ll have to continue to guard our emotions and prepare for the case,” he said.
“We had people who were out there trying to do the best job that they could in an event to go in and search-and-rescue the Spartan Gym where they thought someone might have been,” said Hood.