The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Police/Courts

March 20, 2014

Oak Hill woman charged with arson at bar

Beckley Police, aided by U.S. marshals, arrested an Oak Hill woman in connection with the Jan. 17 fire at Shooter’s Bar in Beckley.

According to officials at the U.S. Marshals Service, Michelle Surface was arrested on charges of second-degree arson earlier this week at her telemarketing job on Grey Flats Road in Beckley. The Marshals Service was involved as a part of its Joint Fugitive Task Force which aids local agencies in serving felony warrants.

Beckley Fire Department responded to Shooter’s Bar on Second Street in January and after extinguishing the fire, the agency’s investigators found it to be incendiary and not accidental, according to the criminal complaint.

After further review of surveillance video from the bar, officials discovered what appeared to be the defendant setting the fire inside the bar, authorities said. Surface, an employee of Shooter’s, was working alone with no customers in the bar on the morning the fire occurred, authorities said.

According to the criminal complaint, the suspect was observed walking over to a table that had several boxes stacked on top, approximately three minutes before the fire started in the area of the bar where the fire occurred. In the video, the suspect kneeled down by the table and started what appears to be a fire close to the floor. Minutes later, flames are seen coming from the boxes. The fire spread to the wall, and then to the second level of the bar.

The blaze caused around $80,000 in damages to the building. Surface was released on bond from Southern Regional Jail late Monday.

— E-mail: cboyd@register-herald.com

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