On Thursday, February 7, 2019, at 3:10 am, the Boone Police Department and Boone Fire Department responded to the Super 8 Motel on Hwy 105 in Boone.
Officers and fire officials quickly determined that the fire was set intentionally. An unknown suspect had attempted to set fires in three different locations, causing serious damage in one area on the hotel. There were many occupants sleeping in the hotel that night. An investigative team was assembled from the Boone Fire Department, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Boone Police Department and the team began investigating the incident. A suspect was developed from the interviews of the hotel occupants. The suspect was identified as Ronnie Bumgarner. He was on-scene at the time of this fire. An investigator interviewed him at that time. Bumgarner, 23, denied setting the fire.
During the investigation, investigators collected multiple items of forensic evidence during the processing of the crime scene. Those items were sent to the North Carolina State Crime Lab to be analyzed for forensic evidence. Investigators were also granted a search warrant from a judge to obtain a DNA sample from Mr. Bumgarner.
“The collected DNA sample from Mr. Bumgarner was sent to the North Carolina State Crime Lab to be compared with the DNA samples collected at the fire scene. The results of that comparison indicate that Mr. Bumgarner’s DNA was found on key pieces of evidence in this crime.” – Lieutenant Chris Hatton, Investigations Division Commander
After receiving these lab results, an arrest warrant was issued for Bumgarner charging him with one count of felony 1st Degree Arson. On Friday, June 14, 2019, Bumgarner was located in the Forsyth County Jail, where he was served with the arrest warrant. Bumgarner is scheduled to appear in Watauga County District Court on July 26, 2019. Bumgarner’s condition of release was set at a $250,000 secured bond for this charge.