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Authorities: Battery suspect also tried to burn down occupied north Forsyth home
Benjamin Spruell

NORTH FORSYTH — An Alpharetta man who was in jail after a fight has been charged with arson for reportedly attempting to set a north Forsyth man’s home on fire while he and another person were inside.

Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers said 47-year-old Benjamin Allen Spruell faces a first-degree arson charge in connection with the Nov. 20 incident in the extreme north end of the county.

The arson charge is “directly related to multiple charges from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office,” Shivers said.

Spruell reportedly knows the people he is accused of targeting. However, due to the violent nature of the incident, their names and exact connection to Spruell are being withheld.

Shivers said Spruell does not live at the home involved in the incident.

Spruell was originally arrested Nov. 20 and charged with misdemeanor simple battery and second-degree criminal damage to property and terroristic threats by use of a weapon, both felonies, according to Epifanio Rodriguez, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

As of Thursday, he remained in the Forsyth County Jail on a $47,190 bond.

According to a sheriff’s report, Spruell arrived at the home intoxicated, a beer in each hand and five lighters in his pocket. He proceeded to go inside, beat a man and drag him through the kitchen toward the back door.

Once both of the home’s occupants locked themselves in a room, a neighbor stated in the report he saw Spruell “breaking windows and screaming.”

Spruell then reportedly found a “propane tank from under the grill that was sitting on the back porch and threw it through the back glass door” before lighting “several things on fire” and throwing them inside.

When deputies arrived and convinced the occupants they were safe to unlock the door, the kitchen and living room were both filled with smoke.

The neighbor reported he heard Spruell yell that he was “going to kill everyone in the house and burn it down.”

A taxi driver who drove Spruell to the home from an Alpharetta fast-food eatery said in the report he saw the suspect damage vehicles in the driveway, including urinating into one of the gas tanks.