NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Hermitage community members faced some frightening moments overnight after a mattress was set on fire inside a motel filled with guests.
The incident unfolded around 1:25 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10 at a motel just off Interstate 40 along Percy Priest Drive.
According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, Michael Morris set the mattress on fire inside room 211, causing flames and smoke to fill the motel room.
A woman staying at the motel described those moments of panic as people saw the flames and started yelling to make sure everyone could evacuate.
“‘The room next to me is on fire. Everyone get out of the motel. If you have kids, get them out,'” the woman recalled.
Before first responders could arrive, several men rushed to room 211 to take action.
One man told News 2 that he, along with the others, had to physically remove Morris from the smoke-filled room and throw the mattress into the parking lot.
Man: “We threw it over the balcony, used a fire extinguisher in the room till I just couldn’t see anymore.”
News 2’s Andy Cordan: “So you went in the room and put out the fire?”
Man: “Yeah, he was outside the room laughing, and kept going in and shutting the door. Something had to be done, man.”
News 2’s Andy Cordan: “So you pulled him out of the room?”
Man: “Pulled him out of the room.”
News 2’s Andy Cordan: “And then tried to put the fire out?”
News 2’s Andy Cordan: “That’s kind of heroic, man.”
Man: “Not really, dude. It’s just American.”
While all this was happening, police said Morris pushed his way into a downstairs room and got into a brawl with another man, who was with his girlfriend and son.
A man who heard the commotion described it to News 2: “Blows everywhere, man. It was like gladiator night out here.”
By this point, members of the Nashville Fire Department had pulled up to the scene and began attending to the fire. That’s when Morris reportedly tried to steal an arriving fire truck, police said.
“He didn’t have a shirt on. He had blood on the back of his head. He had blood on his chest,” a witness said, adding that Morris got in the driver’s side.
After firefighters pulled Morris out of the fire truck, authorities said the 31-year-old stole a van and drove it to another motel nearby, where he reportedly barged into a guest’s room and locked the door.
According to officials, upon his arrest, Morris said he didn’t remember much after setting the mattress on fire.
“Anybody that has the room smoking and burning and goes back into it and shut the door laughing has got to be crazy or out of it on drugs, one or the other,” explained the man who entered room 211 at the first motel and threw the mattress off the balcony.
Officials told News 2 that Morris experienced burns and smoke inhalation, so he was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he is currently listed in stable condition.
When he’s released from the hospital, he faces a slew of charges, including aggravated arson, burglary, and theft of a vehicle.
Metro Police said Morris has a minor arrest record for drug possession and failure to be booked.