Teens charged with attempting to burn school, church

| February 17, 2010

ANDERSON — Two teen-agers have been charged with breaking into Homeland Park Elementary School and a nearby church before trying to set fire to both places Tuesday morning.

Anderson County sheriff’s Sgt. Andy Tribble said the two boys, a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old, were arrested around 3 a.m.

Each has been charged with one count of second-degree arson and three counts of second-degree burglary, he said.

A report written by an Anderson County sheriff’s deputy said firefighters and deputies found a piece of paper burning in the middle of about two gallons of diesel fuel that had been poured onto the floor of an unlocked storage room at the rear of the school.

The fire alarm inside the storage room was pulled around 2:30 a.m., according to the report.

Benny Patterson, who had keys to the school, told investigators he did not know why or how the door to the storage room and several other doors were unlocked.

The two boys were found later at the Homeland Park Baptist Church about a mile from the elementary school, Tribble said.

“After they tried to start the fire at the school and pulled the alarm, it looks like they ran over to the church,” Tribble said. “Apparently, they broke into the family life center there, where they tried to start another fire. People driving by the church saw them trying to break in to another building on the church property and called 911. That’s when the deputies found the boys and took them into custody.”

Tribble said additional charges are pending in the Tuesday morning investigation.

Anderson County Fire Chief Billy Gibson said the boys also are being questioned in other suspected arson cases.

The state fire marshal is involved in the investigaiton and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has been notified, Gibson said.



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Category: Church Security

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