FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2008
ARSON SUSPECT ADMITS TO STARTING EIGHT FIRES IN McCORMICK COUNTY
(Columbia,SC)–-Law enforcement agents with the South Carolina Forestry Commission have charged a McCormick man with eight counts of starting woods fires. David Lawter, 39, has admitted to igniting the fires which occurred on properties near his Callison Highway home.
Mr. Lawter had been under investigation since the middle of July, 2008 by the Forestry Commission, the USDA Forest Service, and the McCormick County Sheriff’s Department. His arrest came this week in the form of eight charges of willfully burning lands of another. While the resulting fires were small, two fires to which he is linked occurred less than a hundred yards from residences. One fire destroyed a small barn which housed farm equipment. He faces an additional charge of third degree arson from the Sheriff’s Department.
Law enforcement officials have a written confession from Mr. Lawter for these crimes. His bond is set at $50,000.00, but he remains in jail awaiting trial.
Woods arson is a felony. The South Carolina Forestry Commission is dedicated to wildfire suppression. This state’s on-going drought has primed it for an active wildfire season. Recent fires have been abnormally frequent and aggressive for the time of year. Woods arson crimes will be prosecuted in South Carolina.
SC Code of Laws 16-11-0170, Willfully burning lands of another.
THIS RELEASE REPORTS AN ARREST. ALL SUBJECTS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED INNOCENT UNLESS PROVEN OTHERWISE IN A COURT OF LAW.
For more information, contact Scott Hawkins, 803-896-8820
The SC Forestry Commission’s mission is to protect and develop South Carolina’s forest resource. For every $1.00 invested by SC in the Commission, the industry produces about $1,000.00 of economic impact.