Auburn student hailed a hero, chased Toomer's Corner tree fire s - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Auburn student hailed a hero, chased Toomer's Corner tree fire suspect

Herron Taylor is being called a hero for chasing down the man officials say intentionally set fire the toilet paper draped across one of the famed Toomer's Corner oaks early Sunday. (Source: Brandon Etheridge/WTVM) Herron Taylor is being called a hero for chasing down the man officials say intentionally set fire the toilet paper draped across one of the famed Toomer's Corner oaks early Sunday. (Source: Brandon Etheridge/WTVM)

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) – An Auburn University student is being called a hero after her swift actions helped catch a man officials say intentionally set fire to one of Toomer's Corner oak trees early Sunday morning. 

Herron Taylor, a junior studying biomedical sciences at Auburn, was at the corner when the fire began. After watching a man light a piece of the toilet paper that was hanging from the tree, Taylor took action.

"My first thought was to get the tree, I have to put out the fire." said Taylor, "I kind of realized I cannot do anything about that and my boyfriend was saying, 'we have to get the guy.' So I turned around the guy was there and I confronted him."

That confrontation turned into a full pursuit as the man pushed past Herron and fled down a downtown Auburn street.

"I was screaming, running after him saying, 'this is the guy that lit the fire,'" Taylor said. "At that point, the tree had already been engulfed in flames, so a bunch of guys around me tackled him to the ground and started beating him up."

[RELATED: Toomer’s oak standing after being set on fire; community reacts]

Following the fire, rumors spread that the man responsible was a disgruntled LSU fan, Herron says that is not accurate.

“Everyone thought it was an LSU fan but it's not, he was wearing in Auburn hat," Taylor said. "He might not be an Auburn fan, I don't know that, but he was not an LSU fan. It was one of our own."

[SLIDESHOW: Daybreak shows the fire damage at Toomer's Oak]

The man was identified as Joshen Wiest, 29, of Auburn. He is currently being held at the Lee Co. Jail. 

[RELATED: AU releases statement on fire damage to Toomer's Corner oak]

After the fire and assisting with the police investigation, Herron noticed something was gone, her favorite pair of sunglasses.

“They are my favorite sunglasses” explains Taylor, “I wear them every day, you can ask anyone.”

Wishing to find her beloved glasses, she took to social media posting a picture on Instagram with the caption: “I may have lost my raybans but at least
I caught the arsonist.”


With the help of a post on Elizabeth White WTVM's Facebook page, an Auburn fan was able to help Taylor find her missing RayBans.

“I can’t believe it, it is awesome and I am so happy to have them back," Taylor said. "They [the sunglasses] barely have a scratch on them.”

POLL: Following the fire set at Toomer's Oaks in Auburn, do you think the tradition of rolling the oaks after an Auburn Tigers home victory should continue? Click here to take the poll. 

Copyright 2016 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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