Kevin Ellison, once one of the top defensive backs in the nation for USC before being sidelined by a knee injury as a senior, has been arrested on federal arson charges after he reportedly told investigators he set his bed ablaze with a marijuana-filled cigar because “God” told him to.
According to local media, Ellison confessed to starting a fire that engulfed an apartment early Thursday morning in Liberty Lake, Wash., near Spokane, after initially telling authorities he had been smoking in bed.
Ellison, who played briefly for the San Diego Chargers after college, has been playing linebacker for the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.
Ellison reportedly jumped from the third-story unit but sustained only smoke inhalation.
Ellison, upon a follow-up interview in the hospital, confessed, citing the request by God, and said separately to another investigator “that he just wanted to get out of it and for it all to go away,” according to The Spokesman-Review, which cited federal court documents.
Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller told the newspaper federal arson charges were standard for arson cases involving large apartment complexes. Ellison was arrested later Thursday.
Ellison’s roommate and Shock teammate Chris Tucker said he was able to escape the fire after smoke detectors woke him. According to reports, Tucker checked on Ellison, who said, “I’m good,” but did not come out.
“He pounded on the door and it was too hot,” Miller told the Spokane, Wash., newspaper.
Tucker then notified neighbors and left the building before eventually finding Ellison outside.
Ellison had been behaving strangely recently, according to Shock owner Brady Nelson.
Nelson said Ellison had sent text messages to people Thursday night in which he claimed he was Jesus and was part of the Second Coming, KXLY-TV of Spokane reported.
Ellison, the only resident requiring hospitalization from the fire, was a sixth-round draft pick in 2009 by the Chargers, playing in 13 games and starting nine during his rookie season, during which he logged his only playing time in the NFL.