Salisbury businessman charged with setting fire to building

Salisbury businessman charged with setting fire to building
Tommy Cohen is out of jail on a bond of $75,000. (Source: Salisbury Police Department)

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Police in Salisbury have charged a local businessman with setting fire to a building on Sunday morning.

Thomas Miller “Tommy” Cohen, 60, was charged with burning or attempting to burn a building, breaking and entering, and larceny. He was arrested on Sunday afternoon.

Charles Bell, a neighbor of Tommy Cohen, said he was shocked when he heard about the arrest.

“He’s such a good man, I know that there’s something, somewhere bothering him, he wouldn’t have done this, I just pray the Lord will bless him," Bell said.

Salisbury firefighters responded to a fire call in the 800 block of Corporate Circle just after 3:00 am on Sunday morning. The fire was at Salisbury Millworks.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire, but there was damage to the building. No injuries were reported.

Several departments from neighboring communities also responded.

The Loss Prevention Division of the Salisbury Fire Department and investigators from the Salisbury Police Department began looking into the cause of the fire. That investigation led to the charges against Cohen.

Surveillance video showed a man identified as Cohen breaking into the building. Police say the fire was set at approximately 2:26 am and discovered at 3:12 am.

According to arrest warrants, Cohen broke into the building at 823 Corporate Circle and “did steal, take and carry away a computer CPU” valued at $1,000 and “did willfully and maliciously burn a building within the curtilage of another, to wit: did burn a building located at 823 A Corporate Circle, Salisbury, NC, belong to Clear Choice Investments, LLC.”

Several vehicles in the parking lot were also damaged, according to police.

According to a Better Business Bureau listing, Tommy Cohen is president of J. Newton Cohen Heating and Air in Salisbury.

Cohen was released on a bond of $75,000 and has a first appearance in court set for Tuesday.

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