ATF investigates Fort Benning JAG arson

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A backhoe literally rips through history Monday, tearing down what is left of the building that first housed post headquarters for Camp Benning back in 1919.

For the last 50 years, it has been home to the Fort Benning JAG office, but after Friday's fire, employees are starting fresh in another building down the street.

"We have legal assistance and claims, the computers are being set up, phones are being installed, and we're recovering files and email. We will be open for business tomorrow at 0900 hours," said Col. Tracy Barnes, the Director of JAG.

The good news: criminal evidence was not stored in the JAG building, so none of the 28 pending court marshals are in jeopardy.

Employees, though, are still waiting to see if their main computer server survived the flames.

"Building 5 is still a crime scene, there is still crime tape around it, so once investigators are done, we hope to be able to grab the server which contained the electronic files for the building and recover information from there," said Col. Barnes.

The other big question: who could have done this?

Col. Barnes says CID is looking into both past and present cases that the JAG office prosecuted, to try and compile a list of possible suspects.

"We certainly want to see whoever is responsible for this prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but right now, we're focused on establishing our legal services for the Fort Benning community," said Col. Barnes.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command is offering a $5000 reward for any information leading to an arrest of the arson suspect.

If you have a tip, you can call 706-545-8915.