Rogersville cemetery fire set off by alleged flag burning

Jeff Bobo • Aug 14, 2008 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Rogersville man who allegedly caused a small section of the Highland Cemetery to burn Wednesday night after setting an American flag on fire was charged with vandalism, criminal trespassing and reckless burning.

Joshua Lynn Schronce, 19, 428 Waterson St., reportedly told Rogersville police he set the flag on fire because he thought that was the proper way to dispose of it after it had touched the ground.

Police responded to the Highland Cemetery near the Rogersville City Park around 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving a report that a small section of the cemetery was on fire and five people were running from it.

RPD officers James Hammonds and Ken Ferguson were able to detain the five suspects who included Schronce, his sister Kristan Schronce, 21, of the same address, two 17-year-old girls and one 16-year-old boy.

Hammonds said it appeared that the juvenile boy had allegedly kicked the flag over, and Joshua Schronce then set the flag on fire, which touched off some dry grass.

A section of ground about 10 feet by 8 feet was scorched before RPD Officer Steve Nelson arrived on the scene and put out the fire with an extinguisher. None of the graves were damaged, Hammonds said.

Joshua Schronce was the only one in the group taken to jail.

He was lodged in the Hawkins County Jail overnight Wednesday, was released on bail around noon Thursday, and is scheduled to appear in Hawkins County Sessions Court on Aug. 27.

Kristan Schronce was cited into Sessions Court on one count of criminal trespassing, and the two juvenile females were cited into Juvenile Court for criminal trespassing.

The 16-year-old boy was cited into Juvenile Court for vandalism and criminal trespassing.

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